It’s Time to Enter the “Age of the Woman”

By Matthieu Ricard on February 25, 2019

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Until twelve thousand years ago, before humans had developed agriculture and animal husbandry, people lived in small hunter-gatherer societies that displayed equality, reciprocity, and cooperation between the sexes.

A few thousand years later our world, and the place of women in society, had changed. One of the many challenges contemporary women face is bearing the responsibility for their children’s education alone, depriving themselves of an education and a professional life, especially in rural areas.

As a result, two-thirds of the world's 796 million illiterate people are women. Without access to information, they lack knowledge of female health issues. In India, less than 50% of women in rural areas know how HIV is transmitted, and poor personal hygiene may account for as many as 70% of diseases affecting the female reproductive system. A UNICEF study also revealed than 10% of Indian women believe that menstruation is a disease. These striking figures depict a sad reality!

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “Women play a crucial role in developing human sensitivity, compassion and non-violence which are often lacking in today’s world.” 

Ensuring gender equality is crucial. We must guarantee fundamental rights to life, happiness, and protection from suffering regardless of race, caste or gender.

We need to adopt a progressive approach to life and behave in ways that offer a better future for everyone. Buddhism teaches us that it is important to build a more altruistic and equal society at all levels: economic, social and ecological. We have a duty to care for those who suffer, and even if we cannot stop inequality, we must do everything in our power to prevent it from persisting.

To build a fairer and more altruistic world, we must empower women to realize their full potential and abilities.

The non-profit organization I co-founded 19 years ago, Karuna-Shechen, places women at the heart of all projects and focuses on three main areas: access to healthcare, education, and economic and entrepreneurial opportunities.

We help women find personal fulfillment, develop their self-esteem, and become agents of change at the family, community, and societal levels. Our projects have a direct positive impact on communities and also contribute to changing attitudes. Hand in hand, we break taboos, end the cycle of poverty, and empower women to become role models for new generations.

Discover more about Karuna-Shechen: