BY: NADIA ZAIDI
“This is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl.”
Sure, that’s probably as biased as it gets, but I think we can all agree that both men and women equally make the world a great place.
Still, the majority of developed countries are driven by patriarchal societies. However, there are a few places in the world today that are entirely ruled by women.
A small group of 13,000 indigenous people who live on the Talamanca canton in the Limon province of Costa Rica. The population is organized into small clans, which are determined by the clan a child’s mother belongs to. Here, only women can inherit land and they have the right to prepare the cacao that is used in sacred Bribri rituals.
The Nagovisi people live on an island west of New Guinea. The women here are heavily-involved in leadership and ceremonies. They are entitled to the land, and take pride in working on it. One of the most revolutionary aspects of this society is that marriage is not institutionalized; that means that marriage and gardening are held at the same standard. If a couple is sexually intimate and the man assists the woman in her garden, they are considered married.
A majority population in Ghana. The society is built around a system called matriclan, in which one’s entire identity, wealth, inheritance and politics are predetermined. All the founders of the matriclan are female. Even though males are typically in leadership positions in this society, the inherited roles are passed down through a man’s mother or sisters. Men in this society are expected to support their families as well as those of his female relatives.
The Minangkabau live in west Sumatra in Indonesia, and are comprised of 4 million people – the largest matriarchal society in the world. They believe that mothers are the most important people in society, and this dictates a tribal law that requires all property to be held and transferred from mother to daughter.
Women rule domestically, and men take on political and spiritual leadership roles. After marriage, women receive their own sleeping quarters, and the husband is required to wake up early in the morning to have breakfast at his mother’s home. When boys are ten years old they have to leave their mother’s home where they are taught practical skills.
The Mosuo people live near the border of Tibet, and are perhaps the most matrilineal society on the planet. They live with extended families in large households and retain the head of each household. Property is awarded through the female, and children are raised to take their mother’s name. Like the Nagovisi tribe, there is no institution of marriage. Women choose their partners by walking to the man’s house and choosing them.
The couples never live together. Since childhood, they are raised solely by their mothers, the father has a small role in their upbringing, and many times his identity is unknown. The male’s childrearing responsibilities remain in his matrilineal household.
So while the majority of the world operates in a male-dominated scope, there is evidence that female-dominated scopes exist and very well put men in their place rather than the other way around.