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TWA’s training on legal empowerment of Tibetan women concludes with pledges

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Sixty action heroes pledge action to create a gender sensitive and a legally empowered Tibetan Community in exile

DHARAMSHALA, AUGUST 7: The five-day ‘Training for Trainers’ program on ‘Legal Empowerment of Tibetan Women in Exile’ concluded today with sixty participants including eight men taking a ‘safe community pledge’ for action, empowerment and development.

Changing one’s mindset, being gender sensitive and instilling that knowledge and awareness in the community remained pertinent in all pledges.

“I will not look at her as women or him as men, but as human beings with human values with the basic right to live with dignity,” read one pledge by a 45-year-old female Tenzin Dolma.

“I will protest any individual who commits sexual harassment and violence against women.” Phuntsok Dorjee, 23 -year-old male student wrote.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama blessed the organizers and the participants during a special audience on Wednesday, expressing his appreciation for such programs. The 1989 Nobel Peace Laureate advised that such programs should bear the foresight to benefit not just humans but all sentient beings. “This legal empowerment training program should continue and also use its potential to empower not only women and men but all the sentient beings on earth,” said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Leading a discussion on the topic ‘Gender Identities’, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee shared his thoughts and concerns on the gender inequalities that existed in Buddhist traditions and beliefs. Karmapa Rinpoche advised the participants not to allow these restraints to deter them but identify, communicate and network and build alliances with the other women groups and support each other’s endeavors and actions.

The Tibetan PM (Sikyong) Dr. Lobsang Sangay held a lengthy discussion on the pressing issues of child molestation and gender-based violence in the Tibetan community in exile. “We should have zero tolerance against such crimes and the perpetrators should be tried under the court of law as criminals instead of being let free and forgiven,” said Dr. Sangay.

As the chief guest of the opening ceremony of the training program, Honorable speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in exile, Penpa Tsering, said that these training programs on gender sensitization and taking legal recourse to tackle sexual harassment and violence should be given more to men who tend to be the perpetrators of such heinous crimes.

“The training dwelled on the broader areas of making conceptual clarity on gender, looking within-reflection, taking agency on sexual violence, strengthening self and others and securing the future,” the TWA said in statement today.

Social Scientist, Feminist and Gender trainer Ms. Kamla Bhasin covered gender, patriarchy, masculinity, women’s rights, violence against women and the one billion rising campaign.

TWA’s legal empowerment project advisor and Tibetan MP Ms. Dhardon Sharling led sessions on gender socialization, gender stereotypes and dilemmas, breaking the silence and the cycle of violence, and developing strategic communication using innovative tools and good practices to address and tackle sexual violence.

Artist, Activist and Feminist Ms. Jasmeen Patheja gave training on unapologetic walking, creating safe spaces, building and sharing testimonies, creating evidence walls and insight generation, mind mapping and ‘I never asked for it’ campaign. Advocate and legal officer Karma D Namgyal spoke on demystifying the Indian Law for Protection of Women and Children based on TWA’s bi-lingual handbook on the same.

The participants representing a cross-section of the Tibetan Community in exile – law students, political activists, young professionals, RTWA leaders, Institute heads and nuns identified themselves as ‘Action Heroes’ – an individual who provides support to anyone facing sexual harassment and gender based violence.

TWA said it puts the legal empowerment programs under high priority and strives to strengthen the social foundations of the Tibetan community in exile by creating a gender sensitive and an empowered and progressive society.

TWA believes that a program such as this one will remove the stigma and skepticism surrounding the need for any programs on women, gender and legal empowerment which TWA deem as a social and a community imperative for bolstering the political and intellectual representation of Tibetan women in exile.

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