Dalai Lama: My successor may be a woman

“If the circumstances are such that a female Dalai Lama is more useful, then a female Dalai Lama will come"

By Katie McDonough

Published June 14, 2013 3:29PM (EDT)

The Dalai Lama   (Religion/Jessica Rinaldi)
The Dalai Lama (Religion/Jessica Rinaldi)

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama says the world is in the midst of a "moral crisis" of inequality and requires compassionate leaders -- particularly, female leaders.

“In that respect, biologically, females have more potential. Females have more sensitivity about others’ wellbeing. In my own case, my father [was] very short tempered. But my mother was so wonderfully compassionate,” he told the Australian Associated Press.

Sure, assigning a wholesale biological predisposition to women -- or men, for that matter -- is problematic. Essentialist thinking is all too often used to justify keeping women outside the halls of power or to explain away the violence committed by some men as being rooted in "nature," and the research on whether women are more empathetic than men is complicated and often contradictory.

But his comments still bring much needed attention to gender parity in governance and compassionate leadership more broadly, which are both really good things.

He went on to say, in fact, that his own successor may be a woman, telling reporters: “If the circumstances are such that a female Dalai Lama is more useful, then automatically a female Dalai Lama will come.”



Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Compassion Dalai Lama Empathy Gender Gender Parity Women Women Leaders Women's Leadership Women's Rights