Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region

Summer 2004

Denise M. Simone
Susan E. Wagner High School English Department
A Literary View of Himalayan Women Through Religious and Cultural Texts


For Teachers

The Himalayas

Women's Lives

Life of a Himalayan Nun

Buddhist Texts

Jataka Tale

Himalayan Herders

Modern Tibet

Modern Nepalese Women's Poetry


What were women's lives like?

Both men and women worked very hard as the terrain and climate were severe. In David Zurick and P.P. Karan's book, Himalaya: Life on the Edge of the World, published by John Hopkin's Press, the chapter on women is called, "The Burden on Women." It is said in Himalaya that women hold up half the sky, however they receive only a small portion of the wealth produced by the land. While women are primarily responsible for securing fuel wood, water, food and other basic provisions, they have little or no land inheritance and are prone to poverty if their husband dies. Their daily chores and child rearing make their hours working longer than men's. Most women cannot have their own businesses. Aside from their work as farmers, herders, salt gatherers, mothers and wives, one of the few alternate opportunities for women is to become a Buddhist nun.

Click here for more information about women's lives

This site was created by .... at the NEH Summer Institute "Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region," held at the College of the Holy Cross, Summer 2004