Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

35. Does Buddhism Support Gender Equality?

Buddhism in Five Minutes - Elizabeth J. Harris

Alice Collett [+-]
University of St Andrews
Alice Collett received her Ph.D. from Cardiff University (UK) in 2004. Since then, she has worked in several universities in Europe, North America and Asia. Her research specialism is women in early Indian Buddhism, a subject on which she has published many journal articles, books and book chapters. Her most recent book is I Hear Her Words: An Introduction to Women in Buddhism. She has also received several grants and awards to develop her research, including awards from the Arts and Humanities Council of Great Britain, Numata, and The Spalding Trust. Prof. Collett has delivered many academic papers and public lectures on her research, having been invited to various countries around the world to lecture on the topic, including, for example, a public lecture at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, a conference paper for the Buddhism and Orientalism conference at the University of Toronto and a public lecture on women in early Buddhist inscriptions as part of an ancient world lecture series for the York Festival of Ideas (UK). As well as her role as General Editor for Buddhist Studies Review, she also serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Buddhist Ethics, and the Academic Advisory Board for Asian Languages and Literatures.


Historically, many Buddhist traditions around the world have treated women as inferior to men. There is, however, nothing in basic Buddhist ethical principles or foundational Buddhist doctrine that supports such a view. Quite the opposite, in fact. The basic answer to the question, therefore, is that Buddhism supports gender equality in principle, but Buddhist traditions have not always done so in practice. The reason for this is likely ingestion of social norms and cultural values from traditional societies, which considered women to be inferior to men, as these are the types of societies within which Buddhism first arose and existed for centuries.

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Collett, Alice. 35. Does Buddhism Support Gender Equality?. Buddhism in Five Minutes. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 172-175 Oct 2021. ISBN 9781800500907. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=40774. Date accessed: 30 Sep 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.40774. Oct 2021

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