Right now,500 feminist,kung fu–fighting nuns are bicycling across the Himalayas.
Take a minute to let that sink in: Buddhist nuns.Who study kung fu.Biking through the mountains.Because feminism.
The women belong to an order of Himalayan Buddhism called the Drupka Lineage,but they're not your typical nuns.According toWomen in the World,their spiritual leader,Gwalwang Drupka,is a huge advocate for women's rights,and he has upended tradition to encourage the nuns to live more active,fulfilling lives.
In most monasteries,nuns play a traditionally feminine role,cooking and cleaning while male monks study Buddhist teachings.But theDrupka nunshave learned skills like plumbing,computer science,the English language,and,of course,bicycling.And they're encouraged to pray and study Buddhism just as much as the monks do.To boost their self-esteem,Drupka even enlisted a martial arts expert to teach the nuns kung fu.
This summer,the nuns embarked on their second bicycle pilgrimage,a 1,500-mile journey through the Himalayas to promote gender equality.Along their route,they're stopping in rural villages to pray with the locals and talk about peace and respect.They're especially passionate about putting an end to the chronic problem ofhuman traffickingalongNepal's border with India.
The kung fu–fighting nuns are perfect messengers for theequality cause.As one 27-year-old nun toldWomen in the World: "We are spreading these messages: girls also have power,they are not weak.In these regions,they listen to and respect religious teachings,so for a religious person to say that diversity and equality is important,maybe people can make this their spiritual practice too."