Eastern religions are communities inspired by Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism cultural beliefs. Eastern religions are mainly found in East-Asian and Indian regions where women are seen as inferior. Unlike Western and African religions, Eastern religion undermines women’s roles in global appeal. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are some eastern religions influenced by cultural beliefs with distinct perceptions and values on women’s roles.
Hinduism is the third largest religion globally, with estimated followership of 851 million, which empowers women’s religious role, although their central role is to support their families. Women are family facilitators to enhance spiritual and traditional growth in the family. Women in Hinduism participate in domestic worship and play an influential role in religion. For example, the daily Puja worship allows all family members to assemble and express allegiance and adoration to a specific deity (Haldar, 2020). The Goddess and Shakti, “universal mother,” are Hindu supreme beings representing women’s authority in religion. Women can worship [them] in unique congregations by fasting, celebrations, and ‘auspiciousness’ rituals for family joy. However, women in Hinduism are only highly recognized, respected, and valued as mothers or wives in society (Haldar, 2020). In Hinduism, women’s roles are giving birth, bringing up children, connecting their families to spirituality, and taking care of their husbands.
In Buddhism, women are not mainly dominated by men but restricted from participating in religious spaces and roles. Women in Buddhism are perceived as substitutes for men and are encouraged to learn their husbands’ careers and commerce to help when incapable. Buddhism also doesn’t restrict women’s education and spiritual beliefs. Although under strict terms, Buddhist women are allowed to play crucial functions in religions, such as nuns and mother figures (Meeks, 2020). For instance, women are subject to more stringent religious guidelines than men, limiting them. According to Meeks (2020), for a lady to become a nun in Buddhism, she must demonstrate adherence to the eight Garudhammas. It is also impossible for a woman to be a Buddha. Many roles of women in Buddhism are mainly motherly and wifely, although their talents are highly appreciated and valued. In Buddhism, women’s role is treated almost somewhat crucial to men’s duty, although they are still perceived as housewives and child raisers.
In Confucianism, religion considers women inferior to men in different social classes. Women’s roles are considered but perceived as a low social course than men’s. Women are taught household management, manners, relinquishment, self-sacrifice, and etiquette needed to answer men (Fang, 2021). Therefore, women in Confucianism are discouraged from pursuing careers and earning like men in society. For instance, women are not allowed to learn mathematics and sciences (if they were to be educated at all) (Lewis & Ergas, 2018). Girls are trained to be hardworking to perform their wifely duties since lazy women are considered silly, shiftless, and shameful. The teachings of Confucianism advocate for feminism since women’s roles are restricted to serving men.
Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism are the main Eastern religions with different women’s roles. In Buddhism, women are almost equally valued as men, although they have limited access to high spiritual ranks. Hinduism emphasizes women’s role in performing wifely and religious duties. Confucianism promotes feminism in that women’s roles and social class have to be lower than men’s. In comparison, Buddhists have the most egalitarian perception of women’s roles, whereas Confucianism has the least honor for women’s roles. Eastern religions are mainly influenced by ancient cultures in East Asia and Indian regions.
Fang, X. (2021). Influence of Confucianism on gender inequality in Chinese education and Employment. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research. Web.
Haldar, A. (2020). Hinduism as a Political Weapon: Gender socialization and disempowerment of women in India. Web.
Lewin, D., & Ergas, O. (2018). Eastern philosophies of education: Buddhist, Hindu, Daoist, and Confucian readings of Plato’s cave. In International handbook of philosophy of education (pp. 479-497). Springer, Cham. Web.
Meeks, L. (2020). Women and Buddhism in East Asian history: The case of the Blood Bowl Sutra, Part II: Japan. Religion Compass, 14(4), e12335.