By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, June 10: An 11-day advanced leadership-training programme to help young aspiring Tibetan women take higher leadership roles in the Tibetan community is underway here in Dharamsala starting from Monday.
Mrs Rinchen Khando, former minister of the Tibetan exile government, speaks at the opening day function of advanced leadership training for Tibetan women in Dharamsala India, Monday, June 7, 2010. Also in the photo are Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament Mrs Gyari Dolma (L) and TWA President Mrs Kirti Dolkar Lhamo (2nd L) (Photo: TWA office)
Professional and experienced Tibetan and non-Tibetan trainers are roped in to give the first of its kind extensive training programme to some 30 potential Tibetan woman leaders from various walks of lives all over India.
'The Tibetan Women’s Advanced Leadership Training', organised by the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), is aimed at “advancing high level women leadership and promoting women representation in the Tibetan community.”
The opening ceremony, held at the House of Peace and Dialogue, Upper TCV School, which is also the venue for the training programme, was attended by representatives of various Tibetan NGOs and other dignitaries from the exile Tibetan Community.
“By the end of this training, we aspire to see women who are not only empowered, but also capable, prepared and willing to take up challenging roles in the decision making arena,” said Kirti Dolkar Lhamo, the president of TWA.
“There are many decisions relating to women and children that are socially crucial, such as education, maternal health, community-based services, and equal legal rights, where opinions, advises and expertise of women is indispensable,” she adds.
According to a press statement released by TWA, although the overall workforce of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) comprises of a 46% female and 54% male, there is only 3% of women in stark contrast to the 97% of males at high level positions.
The statement points out that the "same picture also fits in many other frames of Tibetan exile Diaspora".
The training programme, the statement says, is not only to address this issue, but to figure out ways to enable women representation in the higher ranks of governance.
The training module also includes discussion on the implementation of the Kashag’s eight point policy
on women’s empowerment launched on October 14, 2008.
Mrs Gyari Dolma, the Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, who was the special guest at the opening function, acknowledged that the Kashag’s policy on women empowerment had never been taken up for public debate both in the parliament and in public forums since it was officially announced.
She, however, insisted that the more important and lasting solution lied more in initiative and progressive approach taken by women in facing challenges and not waiting for and relying on legislation supporting women empowerment.
“The charter of the Tibetan people in exile itself stipulates equality of men and women, giving equal rights and equal opportunities for all,” she said.
“Tibetan women must take steps to bring change and take up the challenges instead of simply relying on legislative provisions to bring change in us.
“I personally believe there is enough scope and equal footing for women in Tibetan community to take up high level leadership roles, provided we put in our own serious efforts and follow our vision with due diligence,” she said.
Mr Tsewang Yeshi, the President of Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) Schools, said that “intentionally or unintentionally, there is some kind of discrimination against the Tibetan women.” Hence, he said, it “is essential to sensitize and educate the larger community and take collective efforts to empower women for the benefit of the society.”
The chief guest of the function Mrs Rinchen Khando, former education minister of the Tibetan Government in exile and the founding president of the TWA, said she had been a witness to the tremendous progress achieved by Tibetan women over the years.
Describing the first generation of Tibetan women who came into exile as being “too shy and modest to even speak in public", Mrs Khando said it was "encouraging to see confident Tibetan women now taking all kinds of leadership roles in the exile community.”
The training is divided into three phases - ‘Understanding Leadership’, ‘Building Leadership Skills’and ‘Practicing Leadership’.
Lynda O Lepcha, the director and master trainer of New Delhi-based Holistic Training Solutions, Michelle Pomeroy, a young trainer from the United States, and Gaea Logan, professional psychotherapist, a professor and author based in the U.S., are key resource persons.
The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation (USA) and Open Meadows Foundation have given the financial support to the training programme.