Shamans, nuns and judges

The lives of Asia’s female religious leaders

by Nursheila Muez

Many of history’s most influential religious leaders — Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Gautama Buddha, Adi Shankara, and Confucius — are men. Is this gender imbalance an inherent flaw of religion itself? And is the rising trend of women in Asia taking on religious leadership positions part of a new phenomenon propelled by the global feminist movement?

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Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
In collaboration with
Nursheila Muez / Freelance Writer

Nursheila Muez is the co-editor of AKAR, a Singapore-based independent magazine that features stories and histories of Southeast Asia. She loves reading, the smell of books and bread, a good cup of teh tarik, and picking dried leaves with her son. When she grows old, she will turn her home into a community library for children.

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