Unfolding life-story...

Jampa
Posted April 26, 2015

Despite the fact that women’s education is emerging as a top priority of the international development community, there are still widespread gaps, a lack of funding, and general neglect of women’s education on a global scale—as can be evidenced in my home community of Tibet in Karze County where scores of young women receive little or no education. Such neglect of women’s education is a catastrophic social issue that not only creates irreparable damages to women’s bodies and minds but also impedes the progress of society as a whole.

My own birth illustrates the challenges faced by many Tibetan women from the moment they enter the world. I was born in a narrow horse stall on a pile of straw covered with a worn-out, hand-woven rug. Long, flat, thin pieces of timber separated the horse stall from the nearby cow and yak stalls and is one of the filthiest areas of a typical two-story, mud-walled village house. My mother vividly recounts how my father piled black stones in front of our family’s gate when I was born and burned a piece of dried yak dung on top of them. The color black has a negative connotation in Tibetan and Buddhist culture. Black stones are used when a female child is born. Ironically, this practice is a way to banish evil spirits and protect the newborn child, but for girls it is the first of a lifetime of messages teaching them that they are less worthy than boys.

As a newborn girl, my arrival was not a noble or joyous event for my family. Given the Tibetan cultural view that privileges the male lineage and sees newborn girls as already “taken” or wedded to other families, my parents felt disappointment because it shattered their expectations and prayers for a boy. Even though I hold no grudges against my parents for the disappointments they experienced at my birth, I realize that a more critical educational system would have created different social conditions for my parents, thus lessening the burden they may have felt at having a girl instead of a boy when I was born.

Mostly Tibetan girls tend to mirror themselves through the lens of social stigmas and internalize the socially constructed beliefs that they are born inferior to boys and are the property of other families. Therefore, they rarely attend school and usually remain home herding livestock, doing house chores and collecting yak dung. By the time they give birth to their own children, most women in my culture have accepted their fate. They receive no prenatal or neonatal care and have no access to sanitary facilities with professional birth attendants.

Such deep-rooted social stigmas combined with poor socio-economic conditions are the primary barriers for women’s access to education in my community, Tibet. When I was in 8th grade, I had to withdraw from school for family reason. The turning point in my life came during those months when one of the Great Lamas in my village offered financial support for my schooling because he recognized my talent and potential.

This was the first of many steps that led me to discovering the world outside my village. A scholarship and more financial support brought me to Xining City, a three day bus and train trip from my village, for four more years of studies. My time in Xining gave me the opportunity to take Gender Studies and Development Studies with the Shem Women’s Group. I met inspiring women mentors who made me more conscious of the position of girls in our society and helped me to believe that I could be a source of change.

Today, I firmly believe that quality education for girls can bring about multi-dimensional changes in communities. Therefore, promoting women’s education involves changing attitudes across society as well as a great investment in quality education. In particular, it is imperative to initiate a comprehensive reform program that opens new means of engaging policy makers. I propose a bottom-up approach, where civil society and grassroots individual leaders play significant roles in shaping the societal attitudes regarding gender and give more emphasis on the importance of women’s education. Furthermore, it is necessary to improve local-level school governance in order to ensure that education programs are built to meet local people’s needs since education primarily ought to be for improving the lives of people. We need to work on quality, but not just about quantity in education, getting quality education is siginificant and only it can transform individuals and allow them to perform well in society.

I understand changing cultural attitudes towards women takes time. However, I have witnessed the changes that have occurred in my home community since I myself became an active proponent of girls’ education and other social causes. Many rural families have benefitted from my small-scale development projects and more girls are now attending school. Structural reforms, leadership initiative, and social change start from individual educators like myself because we can establish close connections and mentorships with parents, share our own educational experiences with women and inspire other young girls to be the strong force of positive changes in the society. Through one-to-one conversations, we can promote the importance of education, raise awareness about health, and help empower girls to realize their full potential. Such efforts will help all of us to discover our own talents and will challenge us to be able to vault over the obstacles and unfold our lives with gusto.

The Path to Participation Initiative from World Pulse and No Ceilings

Comments 18

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Alyssa Rust
Apr 27, 2015
Apr 27, 2015

Dear Jampa,

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this story. Hearing about your birth was just amazing and I couldn’t stop reading. I really thought you brought up some excellent points in your post about how education is such a top priority but there are still so many gaps that remain. I also thought you expressed such great social awareness in your post and I really enjoyed learning about your culture and hearing about why having a baby girl was such a burden for parents. Social stigma and cultural norms really seem to be a powerful aspect in Tibetan culture. Your story of becoming education on social equality and gender was really impactful and I am really happy to have been able to read about your amazing and inspiring journey to becoming who you are today. Thank you for sharing this with the World Pulse Community.

Sincerely,  Alyssa Rust 

Jampa
Apr 27, 2015
Apr 27, 2015

Hey Alyssa,

Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed reading my stroy and learnt more about Tibetan Culture. What a life, we can just click to connect, and learn about different cultures, thanks for the powerful platform that WP offers us today.

I am so grateful to you for your time and stopping by reading my post.

Best,

Jampa

vrclark
Apr 30, 2015
Apr 30, 2015

Jampa, I just finished reading your post, and infront of me by my computer I have a large, glossy book entitled "TIBET  Reflections from the Wheel of Life".  I have been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for over 15 years, and I have to say (although not surprised) I was not aware that the Tibetan culture devaluated females (which leads to me to wonder how much of the Chinese influence has had on your people and culture since you were born??). And, although the American culture does not use "black stones, or burn Yak dung" there is a belief among some of our older generations (particularly), and for example in my own... that when I was born the reaction was "Oh it's a girl" as a reaction of a father who had one son already and wanted two! I was born in 1952, so hopefully the American culture has changed away from that in 2015. However, male dominance does continue to reign (and women suffer here from sexual assault, abuse, and unequal pay for the same job as men, etc). Please, continue sharing your awareness and efforts to make a notable difference in your culture..One girl at a time!! Thank you to the Great Lamas who offered you financial support towards your education. Keep up your vision, and contribution, Jampa. Many girls with be thankful for your voice that will not be quieted! You ARE a force of change! Many blessings!!

Jampa
May 01, 2015
May 01, 2015

Dear Veronica,

Wow, you've been studying Buddhism for over 15  years, it's really impressive. We may have lots of intersting topics to discuss. Thank you for your comments.

I will continue sharing more...

thanks,

Best Regards,

Jampa

Chelsea Maricle
May 04, 2015
May 04, 2015

Dear Jampa,

Wow, what a powerful experience it is to read your post, even after hearing your story on the road with World Pulse LIVE last fall! You are incredibly articulate and authoritative with your writing, and I am blessed to be able to watch you continue your leadership locally and globally with all you do.

I think the way you link education to women's health specifically is a great example of how we can focus efforts in ways that can positively impact not just one of the issues facing women and girls around the world, but many. Education has the power to do just that!

Much love,

Chelsea

Jampa
May 04, 2015
May 04, 2015

Dearest Chelsea,

It's so nice to hear from you. Thank you so much for always be there to support all WP community and encouraging us. Your feedback i take as invaluably precious as my story get heard.

I will get back to you with email soon dear,

Much Love, hugsss :)

Jampa

Kadidia Doumbia
May 04, 2015
May 04, 2015

Jampa,

You're the living proof that when a girl is offered access to education she can change the world. How wonderful of you to give back to your community "However, I have witnessed the changes that have occurred in my home community since I myself became an active proponent of girls’ education and other social causes."

The population needs to be explained the benefits of education for all and particularly for girls. This is an endless crusade and that is worth undertaking.

Congratulations and keep the vision of a better life for girls and women it is the only way we will prevail.

Jampa
May 04, 2015
May 04, 2015

Dear Kadidia,

Thank you so much for connecting here and reading my post. Your comment means a lot to me. Yes!!! Let's keep sharing our great stories and inspire each other or else who could mobilize us for transformation if we do not start from ourselves.

Sincerely,

Jampa

William
May 05, 2015
May 05, 2015

Dear Jampa, When I read your well-written post it occured to me that this is the same story I have read from World Pulse members in every country. I don't think lack of respect for girls/women is faith-based, but culture-based. Even in the Western culture boys are pressed to study hard so they can get into the best prep schools or universities.

I raised three daughters and have been liberated from the steriotype of expecting less from a female--in fact more. Still in the U.S. women don't get the top manageril jobs or even equal pay.

The problem is deep and whole villages and cultures must be shown the benefit of educating females. From your post you have discovered this truth and acted upon it by educating other girls. You have explained well what must be done and why, so reaching out, safely, is the present best answer to the need. Keep up the mentoring and teaching, Jampa and continue to let all of us at World Pulse know how you are succeeding.

Jampa
May 05, 2015
May 05, 2015

Thank you so much William for this comment. Yeah, Women and girls experience so diffiferently from different culture to culture or place to place in terms of inequality, yet it is also similarly, so one of the best way to look at this scoial constructed beliefs that embedded in women's daily life is that we change from ourselves, and we communicate with women and younger generation to start approaching differently.

Thank you once gain,

Best,

Jampa

Tamarack Verrall
May 06, 2015
May 06, 2015

Dear Jampa,

Your call for education for all girls, your context of how many hurdles must be lept over, and your own story of how you have soared despite these enormous hurdles is so absolutely, beautifully written. Your words sank deeply into my heart as I read, renewing my own determination to see this change happen universally. You provide such depth to what is such a basic and yet still widspread unattained right "...getting quality education is siginificant and only it can transform individuals and allow them to perform well in society". I am imagining this world with every girl in Tibet in school. What a leader you are, Jampa. What an inspiration to the world this piece is for us all.

With much love,

Tam

Jampa
May 06, 2015
May 06, 2015

I am now full of love and gratitude. Thank you so much dear Tam for your support, your kindness and your encouragement. I will keep sharing more.

Much Love,

Warmly,

Jampa  

Deborah Dauda
May 06, 2015
May 06, 2015

Greetings Jampa! You are such an inspiration to us all. I couldn't agree more that "a bottom-up approach, where civil society and grassroots individual leaders play significant roles in shaping the societal attitudes regarding gender and give more emphasis on the importance of women’s education". Indeed, this is the only proven way that things will get done, and be sustainable. The cultural context and narratives of your community is so similar to other parts of the world as well, including my own. However, I was luckier than many of the girls that I grew up with, because of my mother. She didn't want me to face the same faith that she did, as a child and young mother. Eventhough we didn't have much, she made sure I went to school, and encouraged all my efforts. This reason and more is what continue to inform my work in the areas of reproductive health, and social inclusion of girls. Thank you so much for your beautifully written piece. Many blessings to you.

Jampa
May 06, 2015
May 06, 2015

Dear Deborah,

What a blessing that we get connected here. Thank you so much for your comments and thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. What a wonderful mother you have, she is so amazing that she foresees opportunities and possibility ahead in your path and chose to get you educated. She is the heroine and you are the best daughter for her, she must be very proud of you today.

Thank you so much for the connection,

Let's keep sharing our stories,

Much Love,

Jampa

Mauwa Brigitte
May 07, 2015
May 07, 2015

Chère Jampa!

J’apprécie beaucoup votre histoire et le point touchant est  votre culture, votre naissance a fait que les femmes, filles puissent bénéficiés de changement à l’éducation qui est prioritaire. Continue à hausser votre voix pour l’intérêt de la communauté et la société en générale.

Jampa
May 07, 2015
May 07, 2015

Dear Brigitte,

Thank you so much for your comment. Even though i do not understand French, i have your message Google translated, and i very much got what you meant. Thanks for the connection here.

Warmly,

Jampa

Ellie
May 11, 2015
May 11, 2015

Dear Jampa, 

What a great insight into your life as well as the specific solutions you see possible to empower communities! Thank you so much for sharing this well thought-out perspective. And how eloquently written! 

Warmly, 

Ellie

Jampa
May 11, 2015
May 11, 2015

It's so nice to hear from you Dear Ellie. Hope everything has been going well with you. Thank you so much for you lovely comment. Hope to see you sometime soon.

Much Love,

Jampa