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Dharamshala, May 8th — 117 grassroots women leaders belonging to 26 regional chapters of Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) converged in Dharamshala, India for the 6-day (May 8-13) General Body Meeting (GBM), the 11th in the series of TWA’s history.

Dr Lobsang Sangay, Tibetan political leader (Sikyong), Mrs Rinchen Khando, founding President of Tibetan Women’s Association and former Kalon and Mr Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile graced the opening ceremony as the chief guest and guest of honours.

Addressing the gathering, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay praised the organisation for their efforts in creating awareness about the urgent situation inside Tibet and their continuous service in exile, particularly in the promotion of women’s rights and empowerment.

While promoting women’s empowerment is at the core of societal development, Sikyong called for more representation of Tibetan women in the leadership of the Tibetan movement.

To show his admiration for the women’s group’s exemplary community service, Sikyong quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

In his addres, Mr Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, spoke about the determination of the Tibetan people inside Tibet and called it “indefatigable.”

Regarding the importance of raising awareness on the situation inside Tibet and work for women’s empowerment, Mr Tsering spoke about reasons for adopting the Middle-Way Approach to resolve the issue of Tibet.

He said that our emotions are powerful, yet emotions alone will not solve our problems. “We have to be practical,” he said.

The GBM convens every three years and is the highest decision making body of TWA. It is empowered to amend the association’s working charter. The 11th GBM will elect the 11th central executive officers. The concluding ceremony including the announcement of the election results is slated for 5 pm on May 13th – the final day of the general body meeting.

On the first day of the meeting, TWA honoured Tibetan women who strove vigorously and effortlessly to reinstate the Tibetan Women’s Association in Exile in the early 1980s which led to the reestablishment of the Association on September 10, 1984. Ms Rinchen Khando, founding President of the Tibetan Women’s Association and former Kalon was honoured for her continued leadership and guidance in the Tibetan community.

Ten Central and Regional Executives were honoured for their 12 years of service and contribution to the Tibetan Women’s Association at the regional and central offices. The dignitaries also launched three Tibetan Women’s Association’s publications in Tibetan; the publications are titled “History of Tibetan Women Leaders”, “Tibetans’ Intermarriages inside Tibet and Exile” and “History of Regional Tibetan Women’s Association”.

The Central TWA said it “has drafted a 7 point agenda covering a wide range of issues: political, social, educational, advocacy and empowerment initiatives to reinforce, capacitate, and strengthen the role of Tibetan women in the Tibetan freedom struggle.”

“Adequate time will be provided for discussions, brainstorming sessions, and deliberations, on the agenda. All resolutions derived from these broad agendas will serve as the action plan for TWA and its chapters for the next three years (2015 - 2018).

From a humble beginning in 1984 in exile India, TWA is today the second largest NGO (17,000 members) in exile and the only women’s NGO in Tibetan history with a global network of 56 regional chapters spread over 4 continents,” it said.

In the course of TWA’s history, Tibetan women have had a steadfast presence in empowering women in the Tibetan freedom struggle, amplifying the suppressed voices of Tibetans in Tibet, lobbying world leaders, empowering women in exile on social, political, educational and economic fronts, strengthening democracy in exile, advocating for Tibet’s environment and strengthening the TWA organizational structure and influence.

TWA said it’s slogan is: “Advocacy for Home and Action in Exile.”

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