The world-renowned Kung Fu Nuns of the Drukpa order of Buddhism has won the prestigious Martial Arts Education Prize 2021 from the UNESCO International Centre for Martial Arts for their brave acts of service.
The prize recognises the Kung Fu Nuns' heroic acts of service and championing of gender equality across the Himalayas.
Through martial arts, the Drukpa nuns empower young girls to defend themselves, build confidence, and take on leadership roles in their communities.
This award from UNESCO ICM also recognises the Kung Fu Nuns' work in Indian and Nepali communities hit especially hard by the pandemic, leaving many marginalised groups in need of supplies and education.
The Kung Fu Nuns hail from the Drukpa Lineage of Indian Buddhism and began learning Kung Fu to build strength and confidence.
They now use those skills to serve others through unimaginable acts of bravery -- from their recent 2,500 km "Bicycle Yatra for Peace" from Kathmandu, Nepal, to Ladakh, India, to speak out against human trafficking, to their refusal to evacuate after the 2015 Nepal earthquake in order to deliver critical aid to neglected regions.
Adept in both weaponry and hand-to-hand combat, they have begun a self-defence training initiative for young girls in the Himalayas, where violence against women is rarely reported.
With over 700 Drukpa nuns in the ranks, there is a long waiting list of women and girls who want to join them.
The Kung Fu Nuns have transformed the way the Himalayans view not only nuns, but women. Their Kung Fu demonstrations draw audiences in the tens of thousands, inspiring a new generational mindset that women can do anything.
Through their acts of service, and by setting an example of empowerment for the marginalised, the young Kung Fu Nuns have become heroes in their own right.
Their efforts were honoured with several prestigious international awards. The nuns are recipient of the Atlantic Council's prestigious Unsung Heroes Award 2020 and the Asia Society's Game Changer Award 2019. They were also finalists for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize for their humanitarianism in the Himalayas.