Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Buddhist Studies | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


One of the most striking features of the contemporary revitalization, transmission, and transformation of Buddhism is the prominent roles that women are playing, both locally and globally. Since 1987, Buddhist women from around the world have been uniting on a grassroots level and taking more active roles in working not only for the welfare of women, but for the welfare of human society writ large. Today, the Buddhist women’s movement has become a highly dynamic forum representing the interests of somewhere between 300 and 600 million women, depending on who is compiling the statistics. This movement is transgressive by its very nature, breaking through social, cultural, and conceptual boundaries and barriers in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. Emerging from the margins to which women have historically been relegated and into the global spotlight, Buddhist women have become a powerful force for social change. Against all odds, Buddhist women have demonstrated how human beings can unite their talents, resources, and efforts to help change attitudes toward the members of a frequently marginalized, disregarded, and disparaged social category, and help reconfigure social and religious structures that disadvantage women.

This loosely organized, multi-cultural movement, which focuses on Buddhist women’s issues and perspectives but embraces all living beings, is innovative in integrating scholarly perspectives, spiritual practices, grassroots activism, and the arts as equally valid dimensions of human experience. Creating a forum that unites women from a vast range of backgrounds and experiences is extremely challenging and yet, in attempting to implement Buddhist ideals of loving kindness and understanding, along with liberal doses of respect and mutual appreciation, this movement has exceeded all expectations to become a successful example of women’s enormous potential for global transformation. This paper seeks to identify the key strategies that Buddhist women have developed and deployed to achieve their goal of an enlightened society.


Original Publication Information:

“Matching Concepts, Transgressing Boundaries: Buddhist Transmission Strategies in the International Buddhist Women's Movement." In Carola Roloff, Wolfram Weiße, Michael Zimmermann (Eds), Buddhism in Dialogue with Contemporary Societies. Münster and New York: Waxmann Verlag, 2020, pp. 297–306.