February 4, 2014, New Delhi: The two-day symposium organized by Tibetan Women’s Association was held at India International Centre, New Delhi on February 3 and 4. The gathering of over 50 people: legal experts, law students, women activists, grassroots leaders, stakeholders, representatives of civil society and institutions, was a significant culmination of TWA’s year-long project titled ‘Legal Empowerment of Tibetan Women in Exile.’ (LETWIE).
The opening ceremony was graced by three eminent personalities: Mr. J.M. Mukhi, Barrister and Advocate at Supreme Court of India, and legal advisor for Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Mr. Tempa Tsering, former Minister of CTA and incumbent representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi and Ms. Kamla Bhasin, India’s leading feminist activist and writer.
The symposium was structured around two plenary sessions, two TWA presentations and two workshop sessions.
Plenary session one saw an intellectually stimulating dialogue initiated by three accomplished Indian women. Ms. Karuna Nundy, Advocate at Supreme Court of India spoke about ‘Women Security and Legal Safeguards in Indian Law and International Law. Dr. Ananya Vajpeyi, Historian and Professor, spoke about ‘How Improving Rights Awareness and Legal Education Strengthens Women’s Intellectual Growth in the Society,’ and Ms. Jasmeen Patheja, Artist, Activist, Feminist spoke about ‘Challenging Attitudinal Differences Towards Sexual Harassment against Women in India.’ Dhardon Sharling, Creative Head of LETWIE and Member of Tibetan Parliament in exile, chaired the dialogue.
The second plenary session discussed on the social, political, legal issues affecting Tibetan women in particular. Dialogue initiators included Dr. B. Tsering, Principal, Dalai Lama Institute of Higher Education and Member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Ms. Tenzin Tseyang, Coordinator, Women’s Empowerment Desk, SARD, CTA and Mr. Vinayak Narayan, a Tibetan-speaking Advocate based in Dharamsala. TWA’S General Secretary Nyima Lhamo moderated the discussion.
Tsering Choedon, Advocate and Program Coordinator of TWA’s LETWIE presented the results of the quantitative research survey participated by 500 women in 16 settlements in India. Tsering also presided over a large group discussion on the grave social issues affecting women, such as sexual harassment, marital rape and domestic violence.
TWA’s executive members who implemented the LETWIE project: President Tashi Dolma, Vice President Samten Choedon, General Secetary Nyima Lhamo and Joint Secretary Tsering Dolma sat over a sharing session during which they interpreted the case studies gathered out of the in-depth field survey they conducted in 16 Tibetan settlements in India.
The workshop sessions discussed and later adopted a Mission Statement, Action at Individual level and Increasing Civic Engagement, Recommendations for Central Tibetan Administration and Next steps of Action for TWA.
The symposium, which is a first of its kind, suggested remedial measures and way-forwards to address the social, domestic and legal issues facing Tibetan women in exile India. The social programs and legal safe-guard measures discussed and devised were aimed to combat the discrimination, risks and violence facing women, while seeking to create a gender equal society and significantly to achieve legal empowerment for Tibetan women exile.
The ‘Legal Empowerment of Tibetan Women in Exile,’ an undertaking of TWA project essentially aimed to enable the social status of Tibetan women in exile to match the significance and vigor underlying the tenets and maxims of Tibetan democracy in exile.
Ms. Tashi Dolma (President): 9459553953/ 09910892651
Ms. Dhardon Sharling (Creative Head, LETWIE): 9418791189
Ms. Tsering Choedon (Project Coordinator, LETWIE): 9882722520