The Dalai Lama - "The World Will Be Saved By the Western Woman"

14th Dalai Lama
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is introduced to guests during the Conversations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Ryogoku Kokugikan on November 25, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.

Keith Tsuji / Getty Images

About a month ago, the Dalai Lama said something about women that is just now making the rounds on Twitter. His statement, "The world will be saved by the western woman," was delivered during the Vancouver Peace Summit 2009, which opened on the morning of Sunday, September 27th.

Although I'm still trying to track down a transcript of the speech containing the above statement, the Dalai Lama participated in more than one panel discussion that day, and the event most likely to have provoked such a strongly worded declaration was the "Nobel Laureates in Dialogue: Connecting for Peace" presentation held that afternoon. Moderated by former Irish president and peace activist Mary Robinson, the panel discussion featured four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: the Dalai Lama (who won in 1989); Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams, founders of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement and winners of the Nobel in 1976; and anti-landmine crusader Jody Williams, an American peace prize winner in 1997.

If the "western woman" statement were made in the context of the Dalai Lama's appearance with these extraordinary women, the words would seem less stunning than sensible. Truly, these western women have already changed the world, and have been doing so for more than three decades.

Writing for the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) blog, executive director Marianne Hughes ponders the idea of the aging women as hag (originally a representation of feminine power) and how it relates to the Dalai Lama's statement:

I'm not entirely sure what he meant...but I am wondering if when he travels across the globe and sees so many of our sisters impoverished and repressed he sees western women of all ages in a position to speak out for justice and to take on the responsibilities of the hag... to take loving care of the planet and its people.

The Dalai Lama's comment about western women was not the only notable pro-female statement he made during the summit. In the Vancouver Sun, Amy O'Brian quotes others including a call for "increased emphasis on the promotion of women to positions of influence."

In response to a moderator's question about what he sees as priorities in the quest for world peace, here's what the Dalai Lama said:

Some people may call me a feminist...But we need more effort to promote basic human values — human compassion, human affection. And in that respect, females have more sensitivity for others' pain and suffering.

World-saving aside, women do what they do because it's work that needs to be done. None of them do it with an eye toward winning a Nobel Peace Prize, but the acknowledgment is valuable in that it draws attention to these efforts and eases the ever-present fund-raising struggle...and recruits more followers, like those who are retweeting the Dalai Lama's statement. Hopefully every woman who forwards those words will dig down deep enough to find the source of his inspiration and understand that he honors real women whose work continues day in, day out...regardless of whether they're in the limelight or not.

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Lowen, Linda. "The Dalai Lama - "The World Will Be Saved By the Western Woman"." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Lowen, Linda. (2021, February 16). The Dalai Lama - "The World Will Be Saved By the Western Woman". Retrieved from Lowen, Linda. "The Dalai Lama - "The World Will Be Saved By the Western Woman"." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2023).