TIBET: Discovering the World Outside My Village

By Jampa Latso

The turning point in my life came when one of the Great Lamas in my village offered financial support for my schooling because he recognized my talent and potential.

Jampa | Tibet

Women’s education is emerging as a top priority of the international development community, yet gaps in education exist on a global scale—as evidenced in my home community in Karze County of Tibet.

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, 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. I shattered their expectations and prayers for a boy.  

Even though I hold no grudges against my parents for the disappointment 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.

Tibetan girls tend to 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.

These conditions create barriers for women to access education in my community. I myself had to withdraw from school in 8th grade because of family obligations. The turning point in my life came 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 discover 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. I propose a bottom-up approach to reform, where civil society and individual grassroots leaders play significant roles in shaping societal attitudes regarding gender and women’s education.

Education ought to be primarily for improving the lives of people. We need to improve local-level school governance in order to ensure that education programs are built to meet local people’s needs. We need to work on improving more than the quantity of education; we need quality education to 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 social causes. Many rural families have benefitted from my small-scale development projects, and more girls are now attending school.

Structural reforms, leadership initiatives, and social change start from individual educators like myself. We are in a position to establish close connections and mentorships with parents, share our own educational experiences with women, and inspire other young girls to be a strong force of positive changes in 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 vault over obstacles and unfold our lives with gusto.

This story was written for the World Pulse and No Ceilings Path to Participation Initiative. With this initiative, we crowdsourced stories from World Pulse's global community to help turn the No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report into a blueprint for action on the ground. Click here to browse through the 126 submissions we received from over 30 countries.

Region Asia Pacific
Topic Education
Comment on this Editorial


Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story, Jampa.

I really appreciate the focus of starting change from the bottom-up because it presents change as something that can be done through seemingly small actions. Speaking to someone about why something is problematic or engaging in a dialogue with someone is a first step to change. Thank you again for your solutions and for sharing your experiences.



Hey dear Lauren,

Thank you so much for the comment. Exactly, communication or dialogue of problems in front of our eyes are singnificantly important and that is a paramount step for betterment.

Thank you so much for your sharing your thought,



Thank you so much for sharing your story Jampa, moreso because you have used your life's experiences to open and pave a way for girls. Edication is imprtant and all girls deserve an opportunity to sit in a classroom an receive instruction and access to the world which they are very much a part of.

All the best in your endeavours


"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk to let it blossom".

A wonderful insightful and educational story thanks for sharing it. It's amazing to hear how you are taking what you have learnt and experienced so far to enable you to make change in your country and a difference to other girls and woman life's and future. Your story is inspirational. 

Dear Jampa, Congratulations on reaching the stars! I am happy for you and proud that you are representing our VOF 2013 cohort. I am quite familiar with your amazing and special story of empowerment and yet as I read it again, retold in this piece, still I find it a refreshing revelation. Let there be more empowered girls and women from Tibet, and may your dream of leading a non-profit to  power the changes in the villages come to reality.

In sisterly solidarity,


Blessings, libudsuroy

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Hey hey dear Libudsuroy, Thank you so much for always being there to support, to read my journals and giving insightful comments. We are always the VOF 2013 and one family of power and sisterhood. I wish you the best for your journey and everything that you do, Much Love, Jampa

All my congratulations for the change you have brought to your village, there is an adage that says educating a woman is educating a nation all in reality with my own conscience this is very true but the world unaware, continues to change and good luck with your projects


Dear Sylvie, Thank you so much for the great comment. It's truly wisdom of knowing the value in educating women. I strongly believe in that "educating a woman is educating a nation," what a beautiful as well powerful adage that every one on planet should keep in mind. Thank you a lot, Best, Jampa

felicitation  de partage votre histoire propre qui ta pousse a  aides les femmes donc tuas raison de choisir l'education eduquer une femme c'est eduque toute les nation courage contineur

Muhorakeye Esperance

Cher Muhorakeye, Merci beaucoup. je ne comprends pas le français, mais je lui ai demandé de traduire ami pour moi . merci pour votre temps et votre commentaire. BONNE CHANCE, Jampa

I was so happy when I read that a Great Lama decided to support you because they saw your potential.  Now you are able to help others discover their own abilities with your community projects and hopefully they will also help with changing attitudes towards women and girls so they can reach their full potential.  Thank you for sharing this story.


Dear Jampa,

You are an inspiration! I love that you were given the opportunity for more education and that you are now "paying it forward" and helping other girls in your community. Good luck!



Dear Maagie, Thank you so much for dropping by and reading my story. Your words of comment means a lot to me. Thank you greatly, Sincerely, Jampa

Dear Jampa, 

Thank you for sharing your story. I know you serve as a hero and mentor to the young people in your village. Thank you for shattering stereotypes while still representing the beauty of your home. Keep up the inspiring work! Best, Ashleigh 

Who can not read and tell?your private story is so inspiring one.It is a revealing story.It morally educates its readers and help us find a course of solutions to problems encountered by women in terms of their education,family status and the like.It is so wise to know that women are bearers of life and that it should be kept in mind that there is no life without them.He who loves women,loves life and if you wanna change the world,love  women and not dehumanize them.



It is always inspiring to know about how girls around this world try to break through gender barriers to achieve their goals and to actually know so many unique practises in other parts of the world. The world is so big.