March 8 is International Women’s Day and this year it coincides with the presentation of the 2011 Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards, when five women will be feted for their contributions to Buddhist spirituality.
The award, now in its 10th year, is being presented at a ceremony held at the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women in the Don Muang area today, at 8:30am.
The five winners are:
Hathairat Suda, social worker and activist. For the past 17 years, Hathairat has been working to promote reproductive health, HIV/Aids prevention, and sex education amongst youngsters. Once ordained a samaneri, or female novice, in the Theravada tradition, she has found Buddhist teachings and the roles of female monastics helpful in her counselling work with teenagers.
Sujitra (Sudassa) Onkom, academic, dharma writer and vipassana meditation teacher. Teaching at the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty of Rajabhat University’s Thon Buri campus, she has penned 18 dharma books in Thai and six in English. Apart from doing TV and radio programmes, she is also a highly respected dharma and meditation teacher.
Debra Quayle Travis, meditation teacher. With strong foundations in both Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhism, Travis has for the past 15 years been teaching meditation to people from all walks of life, including prisoners. She is a student of spiritualist Lama Tsultrim Allione, whose specialty is Tibetan Buddhist lineage.
Maechee Daranee Chantrawut, Buddhist nun. The former teacher with several awards to her credit, she now teaches meditation and dharma to women practitioners at her own nunnery, where therapeutic treatment for stroke patients is also offered as part of social services. She is currently executive director of the Thai Maechee Institute.
Samaneri Dhamma Visudtha, female novice. Ordained a nun at 15, she has spent the past 39 years practising and teaching dharma and meditation. A highly respected teacher, she was ordained a samaneri 14 months ago and her elevation to a bhikkhuni in a few years’ time promises to be a significant event.