My colleague, Whitney, and I are walking up seemingly hundreds of steps to the 2,600-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda. This is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it’s adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems, and is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas.
At the bottom of the stairs to the pagoda I collect from a woman at a street stall an armful of gorgeously scented roses and then at the top of the stairs I’m stopped by a guard who places a wrap-around sarong on my dress to cover the bare flesh of my legs.… Continue Reading
Indonesia has held a special place in my heart for many years. It’s the country of my mentor, the late Ibu Gedong Bagus Oka, who taught me so much about women’s involvement in peace processes and about the theory and practice of conflict resolution. As a member of Indonesia’s parliament and the founder of a Gandhi ashram in Candidasa and a civic world leader engaged in interfaith dialogue at the UN, she showed that you can inhabit many worlds to lead social change.… Continue Reading
I’d wanted to go to Bangladesh ever since I heard the story of the sari shop with a secret door to a bookshop for women who wanted to read feminist books. The women would emerge from the change rooms to greet their husbands with books discreetly hidden under their saris. In joining The Asia Foundation, I finally got my chance to go to Bangladesh, and in the right role too as head of women’s empowerment.
I arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to news that draft legislation to lower the age of marriage was under discussion.… Continue Reading
Perhaps it was inevitable that my bohemian self would wend its way to Sausalito and to one of its boat communities. Even more fortunate was finding my heart-boat, which is called Sunrise and has been owned for 26 years by a woman who comes from a boat building family and grew up in Tahiti.
Many friends have asked me what it’s like living on a boat and in Sausalito, so here’s my snapshot in response.
My boat is small and snug with porthole windows, so I can see seals popping up when I’m lying in bed.… Continue Reading
I’m here in Cambodia as part of a month long visit to The Asia Foundation‘s country offices in my new role as Director, Women’s Empowerment Program. While spending time with our country office here, my friend, Jen, invited me on a night time tour with Scott Neeson, founder of Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF).
I’m night walking with Scott through the dump fields of Phnom Penh. We’re carrying flashlights while Scott gives me a running narrative about the families who we’re walking by and meeting.… Continue Reading
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