“I call myself a feminist,” said the Dalai Lama. “Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”
The audience erupted in laughter and applause. The Dalai Lama went to on say that women are more prone to compassion, since they have the responsibility of bearing children.
The Dalai Lama was chosen for the prestigious award due to his commitment to protecting and defending the rights of the oppressed Tibetan people. In 1940 at age two, he was chosen as the spiritual leader of over six million Tibetans. The Dalai Lama fled his country in 1959, several years after the People’s Republic of China took over Tibet. Now he lives in exile in Dharamsala, India where he set up schools and settlements for the more than 150,000 refugees who followed him into exile.
Throughout his speech, the Dalai Lama emphasized the importance of compassion, responsibility, and interfaith harmony.
“Whether you believe this religion or that religion, we are all the same human beings,” said the Dalai Lama. “We all come from the same mother. That creates the basis for compassion.”
The Dalai Lama joins past International Freedom Award winners Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, Bono, Nelson Mandela, and Paul Rusesabagina.