of the United Nation's International Women's Day March 8, 2002,
an international committee of Buddhist clergy, scholars and
laity convened to select and honour Outstanding Women in World
Buddhism. Seven female spiritual leaders and a temple in Taiwan
received awards for their outstanding contributions to Buddhism.
the names of the awardees and brief background information on
over two decades, Mae chee Khunying Kanitha Wichiencharoen,
a Thai Buddhist nun (mae chee), provided shelter for
forty-four thousand abused women and children at the Emergency
Home for Women and Children in Distress in Bangkok, Thailand,
which she founded. A lawyer by training, she played a pivotal
role in pushing for legislation to ensure equality for women
in Thailand and is a co-founder of the Association for the Promotion
of the Status of Women. She launched the Thailand's first college
for Buddhist nuns Mahapajapati Theri College in Korat.
She passed away on May 13, 2002.
Mae Dr. Siri Krinchai is a prominent meditation master; she
has conducted meditation classes and talks on Dhamma for both
the Thais and the International community for several decades.
The Young Buddhist Association of Thailand, where she is a senior
teacher, has become a leading centre for Insight Meditation
(Vipassana). She has trained many prominent meditation masters
who actively follow in her footsteps.
is an outstanding American woman. She has proven how Buddhist
teachings can be integrated with Western psychotherapy to treat
social ills. She ordained as a bhikkhuni (female Theravada Buddhist
monk) in India. She studied psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, she works with immigrants
from Southeast Asian countries, offering counselling on a wide
range of issues: drug rehabilitation, family problems, compulsive
gambling, rape, child negligence and abuse. She established
a Buddhist temple in the same US state. Her family heritage
came from Thailand.
Guong Saeng, an outstanding philanthropist, has built three
Mahayana Buddhist temples in Thailand, and is currently building
a healthcare centre. She has donated generously to schools,
hospitals and other temples. She took her vows as a Bhiksuni
(female Mahayana Buddhist monk) in China and has subsequently
accompanied her students to China and Hong Kong for Higher Ordination.
in the United Kingdom, Helen Jandamit was ordained in Korea
in the Mook Rim Mahayana Buddhist lineage as a Field Reverend.
Since 1974 she has been leading Insigh Meditation (Vipassana)
classes and has written several books on meditation techniques.
She set up and currently runs the House of Dhamma in Bangkok
and is also a co-founder of the International Buddhist Meditation
Centre in Thailand.
Master of the Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore and founder
of the Dhamma Friendship Foundation in Seattle, USA, Bhiksuni
Thubten Chodron, an American Buddhist nun ordained in the Tibetan
Vajrayana lineage, has travelled the world teaching Dhamma.
Her teacher is His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. She is
renowned as an initiator of inter-religious dialogue between
Buddhists and Jews. Books she has written, such as: Open
Heart/Clear Mind; Working with Anger; and Buddhism for Beginners
have been well received. With Santikaro Bhikkhu, she now establishes
an Integrative Buddhist temple in the US state of Missouri where
Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhists may live and practice
Dhamma Master Cheng Yen is the founder of the Buddhist Compassion
Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, with four million members internationally.
It is the world's largest and most successful Buddhist social
work organization. Master Cheng Yen received the Magsaysay Award
in 1991. Her foundation has established hospitals, universities,
schools, and cultural centres and provides humanitarian aid
to the Taiwanese and the international community since 1966.
Her disaster relief programs have reached people in all corners
of the world. She asks her followers to have the heart of a
Bodhisattva and actualise their Buddha nature in altruistic
service to humanity.
temple in Taiwan is a leading centre or women on their ordained
Buddhist spiritual path as Bhiksunis. Of its 1,5000 monastics,
1,200 are nuns and 300 are monks. They have temples around the
world; 95% of which are run and operated by women. They have
3 million members internationally. Their department of International
Relations accepts devotees, regardless of differences in Buddhist
lineage, and welcomes women from all around the world to travel
there, practice, study, be ordained and participate in the life
of a Sangha community in Bodhgaya, India, they have coordinated
international Higher Ordination ceremonies honouring and restoring
the BhikkInini lineage for Tibetan and Theravada Buddhist Bhikkhunis.
a young woman, Voramai Kabilsingh, rode her bicycle from Bangkok,
Thailand all the way to Singapore. This was a small indicator
of this amazing woman's endurance and power. For many years
she was the only Bhikkhuni in Thailand. She ordained in 1959
in Taiwan, and returned to Thailand in saffron robes to establish
a centre for children and women. Her orphanage, educational
and social welfare projects have particularly benefited the
poor and pregnant women in need. Her daughter is Dr. Chatsumarn
Kabilsingh, the Buddhist scholar, now a Buddhist Samaneri, ordained
in Sri Lanka.