In the question When were women first welcomed into Buddhist orders? we learn that woman have been becoming monks for a long time. In modern times (circa 2014 CE) what percentage of monks are female?

  • As the wiki page on ordination of women says, it's a lapsed tradition in Theravada countries. That page states that there are more than 20 in Thailand, but "Thailand's two main Theravada Buddhist orders, the Mahanikaya and Dhammayutika Nikaya, have yet to officially accept fully ordained women into their ranks." So the percentage is tiny, basically.
    – neubau
    Jul 2, 2014 at 3:45
  • I started to research this and discovered this question is overly broad. For each country and each sect of Buddhism, the story is different. Were this question about Catholicism, it would have a short, reasonable answer. In Buddhism, this is a veritable book of census data. Jul 6, 2014 at 14:23
  • @MatthewMartin can you give some guidance on how the question can be made less broad? For instance if the question is reworded to a specific country? Jul 6, 2014 at 14:28
  • Sure, for example, in Cambodia there are lots of women who a bystander would call nuns, but they aren't ordained. On the other hand in Taiwan there are far more nuns than monks. Each situation has an interesting story to go with it. Jul 6, 2014 at 16:39

2 Answers 2


In reply to "what percentage of Buddhist monks are female?" -

In Korea, the number of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis is very similar. In Taiwan, the numbers of bhikkhunis now substantially surpass the number of bhikkhus. I am not sure about Vietnam.

In the Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia, with the Bhikkhuni Sangha in the early stages of a revival and not yet State supported, the numbers of bhikkhunis are growing, but still much less than the numbers of bhikkhus. In Sri Lanka, there are now more than 2000 Theravada bhikkhunis, far more than anywhere else in the world. In Thailand, there are less than 200 bhikkhunis, as compared to around 200,000 bhikkhus. In Theravada Buddhism in "the West" (in Australia, the United States, Canada and Germany combined), there are also less than 200 bhikkhunis.

Here in Northern California, there are more Theravada bhikkhuni viharas than in any other state or region in North America. In this region there are ~60 Theravada bhikkhu temples (at last count) and 4 Theravada bhikkhuni viharas and hermitages. That's a 400% increase in bhikkhuni viharas in the past 5 years.

  • Can you include the number of males in similar positions in your answer? It is difficult to get percentages/comparisons when you only look at one of the two groups. Jul 6, 2014 at 9:17
  • 2
    Bhikkhus refers to male monks, bhikkhunis to females. Does this answer your question? Otherwise please be more specific, so that i can better understand your question. Jul 6, 2014 at 16:31
  • That answers my question. Jul 6, 2014 at 19:18
  • I liked the information you provided but can please ask for some references? (It can be anything like your personal experience or some population survey or anything)
    – sangharsh
    Jul 17, 2014 at 7:24
  • Currently in Viet Nam it's about 10 nuns to every monk. books.google.com/…
    – Brian
    Nov 4, 2014 at 18:15

I've been reading a lot about Bhikkhuni issues in Theravada and the number I saw quoted was approximately 1000 Bhikkhunis being ordained since the original ordination in 1996.

EDIT: Here it is

"Today there are more than 1,000 bhikkhunis, mainly in Sri Lanka and it is the only traditional Theravada country that has welcomed this new phenomenon."


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