“Where are the Women?” A Treasury of Lives Initiative

Coming in March

UPDATE: The landing page for the Women Initiative is now online.

Where are the Women? It’s a question asked all too often about female representation in every form of media, and in scholarship in every field, from Art History to Zoology. It is a question we at The Treasury of Lives must also ask ourselves. As an online biographical reference resource in development since 2007, The Treasury provides access to Tibetan and Himalayan history and religion through the life stories of all people from the region. And yet, of the 1325 biographies currently on The Treasury of Lives only 49 are of women—just 3.73 per cent. This dismal number presents a grossly inaccurate picture of Himalayan history and religion. Readers know better, and they are eager for an honest depiction of Tibet, as evidenced by the strong interest in the women’s biographies now on the site and by the many inquiries about missing materials.

In the past year we have been making biographies of women a priority, yet we recognize that we need to do more. In March 2023, in honor of Women’s History Month, we will launch the Women Initiative, which aims to
make concrete steps toward improving the representation of women on the resource. Seeded by a grant from Shelley Rubin, who was instrumental in creating The Treasury of Lives, we are actively raising funds in order to
publish 100 biographies of women over three years, all of which will be identified as sponsored by the Women Initiative. A dedicated page will list donors (named or anonymous) and provide links to all women on the site.

Donations will support writers and editors who will research and write essays on women from Tibetan cultural regions spanning the seventh through the twenty-first centuries. Peer-reviewed life stories of women will be complemented by associated reference data such as geographic records and dynamic maps, kinship information, timelines, and annotated art and photographs.

These new biographies will not only result in a more realistic and honest portrait of the people and places of the region, but will spur new research and new publication, helping to rectify this long-standing inequality in
representation. With over 10,000 readers visiting The Treasury each month, these efforts to balance the site will reach a wide range of audiences, including general users, students, scholars, and Buddhist practitioners.

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