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04march20101Dharamshala: The Social and Resource Development Fund of the Financial Department of the Central Tibetan Administration opened a two day long Symposium of Tibetan Women's Empowerment today in Dharamshala.

Tibetan Prime Minister, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche led proceedings, and is joined by prominent ministers of the Exiled Government Tsering Thondup, Taklha Kelsang Yangkyi and former ministers, Rinchen Khandro and Jetsun Pema. Around 40 female members, nuns and representatives of the Central Tibetan Administration, nunneries and Tibetan NGOs were in attendance.

In his keynote address, Prof Samdhong Rinpoche asserted that the Women's rights situation in Tibet was much better than in much of the world, explaining that "In the ancient society of Tibet, since human civilisation began, there has no gender inequality. That is due to Buddha including both genders in his Heart Sutra, and in Tantric teachings."

The Prime Minister proposed that "We should have a clear acknowledgment of women's empowerment. It is not a demand for the rights of women, but to ensure we provide equal opportunities and activate the inherent power of womanhood."

04march20102Samdhong Rinpoche resented figures for gender representation in government, showing that the gender ratio of staff in Tibetan settlement offices of India and Nepal is 446/274 for males to females. The figure of women in governing bodies of cooperative societies is only 25 compared with 229 men. Out of 206 local leaders just 24 are women.

"In the schools under Central Tibetan Administration the gender ratio is now almost equal. This level of equality gives us a great opportunity for the future." The Prime Minister said. This compares favorably with generations ago, where the female population of the exile community is very low.

The session will proceed with a panel discussion featuring Dr Juile Thekkudan of the Society for Participatory Research in Asia; Ms Dolkar Wangmo, counselor at the department of education and Ms Tenzin Dadon Sharling, research and media officer at the Tibetan Women's Association.

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