Women’s Day 2020: 6 Thriving Matriarchal Families Across the World

  • Women’s Day 2020: 6 Thriving Matriarchal Families Across the World
    7Mar 2020

    In a country where over 80 percent of the population worships Goddesses with different names, the status of women and what they represent presents a completely different picture. Not only in India but across the globe, women bear what is a glaring unfair burden of representing the values of the family they are born into, or later married into. A woman's identity, therefore, is often tied to her role in her family. 

    What is interesting is to note that although women are often referred to as “homemakers” and regularly perceived as the foundation of a family, men still hold the revered position of the head of the family. 

    Families around the world look, feel, and live differently today. Families can be “make or break” for women and girls when it comes to achieving their rights. They can be places of love, care, and fulfillment but, too often, they are also spaces where women's and girls' rights are violated, their voices are stifled, and where gender inequality prevails. In today's changing world, laws and policies need to be based on the reality of how families live.

    With the UN Women's flagship report, “Progress of the world’s women 2019–2020: Families in a changing world” out this year, let’s take the opportunity on this Women's day to look at some “ab-normal” families headed by women. In these communities around the globe, women oversee everything from politics, economics, and the broader social structure:

    1. Khasi, India: As of 2011, this matriarchal society was comprised of about 1 million. Mothers and mothers-in-law are the only people allowed to look after children and, men aren't even entitled to attend family gatherings. What's more, when women marry in the Khasi tribe, their surname is passed down instead that of their husbands.

    2. Mosuo, China: The Mosuo women are China's last surviving matriarchy. There are about 50,000 of them and they practice Tibetan Buddhism. Lineage is traced through the women of the family. This society is also matrilineal, meaning property is handed down the same female line. Mosuo women also don't marry. Should they choose to have a partner, the two don't live together and the mother plays the primary role in raising the children.

    3. Bribri, Costa Rica: The BriBri people are an indigenous tribe with around 12,000-35,000 members. In this society, land is handed down from the mother to her children. Women are revered and thus are the only people who can prepare the sacred cacao drink for their religious rituals.

    4. Umoja, Kenya: The Umoja tribe is a literally No Man's Land because men are banned. This village is home to women who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence. The Umoja village, which means "unity" in Swahili, was founded in 1990. As occupations, the women and children show tourists their village and work to educate others about their rights.

    5. Minangkabau, Indonesia: The Minangkabau people are a part of the largest surviving matriarchal society encompassing approximately four million people as of 2017. The common belief in this culture is that the mother is the most important person in society. Women rule the domestic realm of life. And while marriage is feasible in the Minangkabau society, partners must have separate sleeping quarters.

    6. Akan, Ghana: The social organization of the Akan people is built around the matriclan. Within the matriclan, identity, inheritance, wealth, and politics are all decided. As the name would have it, matriclan founders are female. However, it must be noted that within the Akan Matriclan, men do hold leadership positions.

    As Malala Yousafzai said, “We cannot all succeed if half of us are held back”. 

    And that is the essence of family, community, and humanity. 

    We at Hiranandani Communities commend women all over the globe for their striking efforts and glorious achievements. This women's day let's pledge to understand the quiet dignified and thriving strength that is Woman. 

    After all, it isn't about making women strong, as we can see they already are. It is about changing the way the world perceives that strength.

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