Executive Director of Bhutan Nuns Foundation Makes It To BBC 100 Women 2018

Email

Dr Tashi Zangmo, executive director of Bhutan Nuns Foundation (BNF) is the sole Bhutanese woman to be featured in this year’s list.

(Source: Bhutan Nuns Foundation)

 

By Kinley Yangden | Bhutan Times

One Bhutanese has made it to the BBC 100 Women 2018 list. Dr Tashi Zangmo, executive director of Bhutan Nuns Foundation (BNF), is the sole Bhutanese woman to be featured in this year’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women around the world.

The 55-year-old devotes her energy and time to help empower Buddhist nuns in Bhutan. The foundation was created in 2009 and is working with at least 28 Buddhist nunneries throughout the nation, providing training to nuns to become well-educated, well-trained leaders in their communities. 

Photo: BBC

The foundation also helps to identify and build much-needed infrastructure.

In an interview with Buddhist Door, Dr Tashi said: “When we started our work, we started from scratch. We started giving training to the nuns.

“When we went to visit the nunneries, we very quickly realised that they didn’t have access to basic necessities such as proper bathrooms, and nutrition was also very bad. It’s ironic to ask them to give health and hygiene and nutrition training when they don’t have sufficient food to put on the table or running water or proper toilets in most of the nunneries.”

PhD holder who was given a “one in a million chance” at education

Dr Tashi holds a PhD from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The focus of her thesis was on education for female monastics, a subject that has enabled her to fully immerse into helping the girls in nunneries across Bhutan and to promote gender equality too.

But the opportunity of education had almost slipped her by. Dr Tashi told Buddhist Door that she was 11 years old when she went to school for the first time and was the first girl to do so too.

Born in a remote village, Dr Tashi was one of nine children. Her mother had asked if she wanted to try out school. Her five older siblings had no such opportunity.

“I always say that it’s one in a million,” says Dr Tashi. “It’s a narrow escape.”

To Dr Tashi, being sent to school was a “big leap” for her and her mother. But it wasn't easy. It took a day to walk from her village to school, so she attended a boarding school, where there were no facilities for girls.

In an interview with Carmen Basquets, Dr Tashi said she had to share a room with boys.

She added: “The teachers weren’t used to working with young girls so it was a horrible experience.

“But every experience I had there made me stronger, and when I look back now I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Dr Tashi then attended Mount Holyoke College in the United States, one of the oldest and most prestigious women’s colleges in the country.

Photo: Ben Barnhart

Dedication and commitment

Although her opportunities at education had helped to broaden her horizons, it was her hardships that instilled a sense of dedication and commitment in helping women in Bhutan.

“In situations where I did not even have a pair of slippers on my feet or an extra set of clothes, I always dreamt of giving, sharing and doing something for the women in my country.

“I had a special feeling for women because we were majority female in my family and I have seen how hard my mother and older sisters worked to make ends meet for family without any education,” said Dr Tashi.

Big achievements

BNF is under the guidance and support of Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, who also stated that they have to “work hand-in-hand among monks and nuns, women and men, for the well-being of not only our own country, but also for world peace. We have to think big.”

Nuns receive certificates of achievement from Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck after completing a training program. (Photo: BNF)

 

One such big accomplishment is the establishment of a Training and Resource Centre in Thimphu, which will serve as a common platform for nuns around Bhutan. This centre is seen as one of the biggest achievements of BNF so far.

10 years on

It has almost been 10 years since BNF was founded and Dr Tashi has seen some changes so far. According to her, people are now open to nuns potentially becoming leaders in the community.

BNF seeks to not only benefit the nuns in Bhutan, but also the development of society at large and Dr Tashi believes that it starts, like herself, with educating female monastics.

 



Related Posts

Ugyen Dema - Bhutan’s Very First Female Captain For Drukair Hopes...

Donning four stripes over her shoulders, Ugyen Dema, 33 was promoted following a ‘marchang’ ceremony.

Nov 07, 2018 13:10

An Unprecedented 7 Out Of 10 Women Candidates Were Elected In...

It was a big win for the women of Bhutan as the country elected seven of the 10 women candidates who contested in the...

Oct 22, 2018 17:08

Largely Funded By The Asian Development Bank, Bhutan’s First...

The Asian Development Bank funded 81 percent of the total budget as grant while the Bhutanese government funded the...

Feb 15, 2019 11:35

Highlights Of The Year Long Bhutan-India Golden Jubilee...

“The events reminded us how deep our economic, spiritual and cultural links are,” said the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan,...

Feb 09, 2019 19:07

Enter The Year Of The Female Earth Hog – Bhutan Looks To The...

As a new year begins, Bhutan evaluates the major events and milestones that marked 2018, in order to forge ahead.

Feb 07, 2019 17:42

UN Supports A ‘Just, Harmonious And Sustainable’ Bhutan – Where...

“When countries are able to support equality of different people, we know that those countries are more stable in the...

Jan 31, 2019 13:12

Latest

News

Largely Funded By The Asian Development Bank, Bhutan’s First Mini-Dry Port Is Now Completed

The Asian Development Bank funded 81 percent of the total budget as grant while the Bhutanese government funded the rest.

Feb 15, 2019 11:35

Highlights Of The Year Long Bhutan-India Golden Jubilee Celebrations Which Wrapped Up On 8 Feb 2019

“The events reminded us how deep our economic, spiritual and cultural links are,” said the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Jaideep Sarkar.

Feb 09, 2019 19:07

Features

One Third Of The Hindu Kush Himalayan Glaciers Could Melt By End 2100: ICIMOD Study

Bhutan will see a rise in temperature higher than the regional average of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

Feb 13, 2019 17:56

To Eat ‘Snacks Or Snakes?’ Discover The Idiosyncrasies Of Bhutanese English

Bhutanese English differs from standard English not only in terms of its accent and pronunciation but also in the usage of words while...

Feb 12, 2019 18:52

Sports

Bhutan’s HRH Princess Eeuphelma Choden Wangchuck Attended The General Assembly of the Asian Paralympic Committee In Dubai

The General Assembly is the highest decision making body of the Asian Paralympic Movement.

Feb 08, 2019 18:15

9-Year-Old Boy From Bhutan Completes Gruelling Cross-Country Cycling Race

While many thought that the boy would give up after 5 to 6 kilometres, others were concerned that he might get injured.

Feb 01, 2019 16:52

Business

Bhutan Shortlisted As A Finalist For The Intellectual Property (IP) Sharing Project 2019

Bhutan has been selected as one of the four finalists out of 13 countries.

Feb 14, 2019 18:38

Bhutan Records Lowest Inflation Rate In 2018 At 3.13 Percent

For the measurement of the current Consumer Price Index, prices are collected from a sample of 557 outlets.

Feb 11, 2019 18:42

Travel

Revival Of Khurul Lake In Lhamoidzingkha – A Special Lake Where One’s Wishes ‘Can’ Be Fulfilled

Today, the lake is fast becoming a tourist spot for both Bhutanese and tourists from abroad.

Jan 20, 2019 15:47

Here’s What It’s Like Inside Asia’s Best Hotel - COMO Uma Punakha In Bhutan

Luxury resort COMO Uma Punakha was awarded best hotel in Asia and third best hotel in the world, by Conde Nast Traveler's Readers Choice...

Jan 18, 2019 17:05

Lifestyle

Tshering Zangmo Represents Bhutan At The 5th Young Chef Olympiad In India

Tshering Zangmo has successfully made it to round two of the Olympiad.

Feb 04, 2019 16:35

Bhutanese Boyband O'Strangers To Play In Pattaya For 2 Months

They are the first Bhutanese rock band to perform at Hard Rock Cafe Pattaya in Thailand.

Jan 04, 2019 15:13

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!