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Sakyadhita International: gender equity in ultramodern Buddhism
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Anna HalafoffAnna Halafoff, Praveena Rajkobal
The nexus between religion and violence has been widely debated in the public sphere at the turn of the twenty-first century. Much of these discourses have centered on direct violence, and on terrorism in particular. Yet, structural violence also remains endemic within many religious traditions, including Buddhism. Buddhist women, and men, continue to challenge these gender inequalities in various ways, notably Sakyadita, the International Association of Buddhist Women founded in 1987, is committed to improving conditions for Buddhist women worldwide. This article investigates how Sakyadhita is promoting gender equity in global Buddhism. It explores Sakyadhita’s origin, and focuses on the 13th Sakyadhita Conference, to examine the role of religious social movements in advancing gender parity. It also proposes an innovative ultramodern Buddhism framework for understanding contemporary global Buddhism, building on existing Buddhist studies, critical feminist and sociological theories. While focused on a Buddhist women’s social movement, this article provides new knowledge that may assist diverse religious communities in addressing gender disparities both locally and internationally.