DDBC hosts a Symposium on Gender Equality

Why is one born a female? Is it because in previous lives her methods of practice are inferior to that of a male practitioner by more than five hundred years? Can a woman become an ordained priest?

To answer these questions, Dharma Drum Buddhist College (DDBC) hosted the Symposium of Religious Studies and Sexual Equality at the DDM World Center for Buddhist Education on the 17th December 2008 to address these questions and refute any misconceptions in both the religious circles and the general public.

The convener of the event was Venerable Huimin, Principal of DDBC. College Professors and students from academic institutions such as Taiwan Theological College and Fun Jen Catholic University attended the symposium.

In his opening remark Venerable Huimin said that religious doctrines emphasized equality among people, and therefore recent development of gender equality in religious education could be regarded as a milestone.

All participants agreed that a gender-equal society does not go against religious doctrines, but rather they compliment each other. Professor Li Yuzhen of Taiwan Tsing Hua University stated that since religious teachers have the responsibility of interpreting the sacred scriptures and texts, the connection between religious training and leadership roles for the female gender have become more important.

Many scholars acknowledged a phenomenon in societies: that religious congregations are mostly controlled by men. So some people have misconceived notions that women are not given greater importance in religious leadership role because of her inferior practice in previous life times compared to a male practitioner. To comment on the Buddhist's view, Venerable Huimin quoted from instructions within the Buddhist sacred texts on his laptop to provide a Buddhist's perspective on this topic.

Assistant Professor Shi Suyin of Taiwan Theological College and Vice Professor Lai Yuching of Huafan University both presented papers to share their experiences in gender equality regarding religious education. Professor Shi cited the increased number of female priests and female students studying at Taiwan Theological College as a statistic to demonstrate the progress of gender equality on this front.

(translated by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)

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