Buddhist women, including nuns, have faced harsh discrimination by Buddhist institutions in Asia for centuries. There is gender inequality in most of the world’s religions, of course, but that’s no excuse. Is sexism intrinsic to Buddhism, or did Buddhist institutions absorb sexism from Asian culture? Can Buddhism treat women as equals, and remain Buddhism?
Let’s begin at the beginning, with the historical Buddha. As told in “The First Buddhist Women,” the Buddha originally refused to ordain women as nuns. He said that allowing women into the sangha would cause his teachings to survive only half as long –- 500 years instead of a 1,000.