Male Dominance at Sakyadhita Conference in Hong Kong


Jenny Paleracio

Sister Malia Wong talking to the faculty members in Eiben 207.

On Wednesday, Dec. 6, Sister Malia Wong, a senior lecturer of Humanities and Fine Arts at Chaminade University, shared a presentation titled, “Wisdom and Insight: Cross-cultural Perspectives” to faculty members at Chaminade, in Eiben 207. Sister Wong shared this presentation at the Sakyadhita 15th International Buddhist Women’s Conference in Hong Kong that occurred on June 22 – June 28, 2017.  

There were 800 people from 31 countries, specifically from Mynamar, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand. 

According to the Sakyadhita official website, “The name Sakyadhita means ‘Daughter of the Buddha.’ Sakyadhita International formed in 1987. The aim was to work together to benefit Buddhist women, to reduce gender injustice, and awaken women to their potential for awakening the world.” 

Sister Wong handed a program to all of the faculty in the room, that was given to the attendees during the conference. In the program the message of welcome says, 

“The theme of the 15th Sakyadhita Conference in Hong Kong, ‘Contemporary Buddhist Women: Contemplation, Cultural Exchange & Social Action’, highlights our diversity and also the many choices that Buddhist women have today. Among us, there are many different ways that we may focus our energies, such as meditation practice, active social engagement, studies, teaching, parenting, artistic expression, and a range of other options. The beauty of Buddhist women is that we come from different countries and cultures, with different interests and diverse approaches to Buddhism, yet together we represent enormous power for good in the world.” 

Despite the warm welcome message posted in the program, Sister Wong expressed the incidences of male dominance, specifically toward the monks in Hong Kong. She referred to one Buddhist monk, who she did not want to name, that caused a lot of “blocks” during her stay. 

Sister Wong told the audience about an incident where a Buddhist monk had to donate water to the nuns, because it was not provided. 

“One Buddhist nun who actually donated water to us,” Sister Wong said. “Because he even blocked us to serve tea when had this international conference. And some nuns don’t eat after 12, so they need tea. But he even blocked having water for them and things.” 

The male Buddhist nun was brought up into the conversation frequently. Sister Wong was shocked and showed the audience her frustration, discussing how Hong Kong threw on a façade. 

“Actually in Hong Kong everyone is happy,” Sister Wong said. “But people don’t know behind the scenes, that we were dealing with because his wife is the head of the nunnery in Hong Kong, which is one of the big ones. He never told his wife that the conference was going on.” 

Sister Malia continued to talk about the misrepresentation of Hong Kong nuns at the conference, as well as how the communist party effected the event. 

“And so then, we didn’t have any Hong Kong nuns here,” Sister Wong said. “We only had the keynote speaker who was from Hong Kong and a little group that we tried to get together. So, there was just a lot of things that, we were thinking that maybe, he just wanted to because of the communist party. They were having a celebration of them being Hong Kong for so many years, like maybe they were just getting in on their side, to get on being on the side of the communist party.” 

Due to the communism, advertisement of the conference was nonexistent. The conference was politically charged. 

Sister Malia Wong ended the conference with vegetarian buns and peanut candy from Hong Kong.