Women Beyond Tea: Fostering Tibetan Women Leaders of Tomorrow
Tibetan women leaders (TWLs) are a recent phenomenon within the Tibetan Exile Community. Before the 1950’s, Tibetans did not typically see women as leaders in public life (Thonsur, 2003). Women first entered public life as leaders after China invaded Tibet in the late 1950’s (Butler, 2003; Thonsur, 2003; McGranahan, 2010). The democratic reforms through the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the de facto government in exile for Tibetans, gave Tibetan women many rights and opportunities to develop their leadership capacity. However, women are still grossly underrepresented at the highest levels of leadership throughout the Tibetan Exile Community. To examine how the Tibetan Exile Community can cultivate leadership among the next generation of Tibetan women, this study conducted a survey of 42 young Tibetans and interviews with six established TWLs. The study found that TWLs possessed a particular set of skills that helped others identify them as leaders, faced immense challenges throughout their leadership journey, and implemented leadership strategies to help them persist as leaders. Day's (2001) leadership development theory and Maparyan's (2012) Womanist theory were used as theoretical frameworks to analyze and interpret the data.