Is Gender Division of Labor Unequal? Children's Experiences in the Puyuma Tribe

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Juhui CHANG, National Taitung University, Taiwan
Chien-Lung WANG, Department of Education, National Taitung University, Taiwan
The Gender Equality Committee in Taiwan is in charge of bringing gender perspectives into the government's policies.  In 2013, the committee suggested the Council of Indigenous Peoples should have examined indigenous peoples’ traditional customs and ceremonies which limited women’s social participation, such as the Puyuma tribe’s ceremonies.  The above suggestion made Puyuma indigenes angry, because traditionally, the Puyuma is close to a matriarchal society, the eldest daughter inherits the property, but the title of chieftain is passed on from father to son.  Women suffer from no gender oppression, and they have superior power over men in their familyhood.  Women and men have different roles and tasks in the traditional ceremonies, but it is not unequal.  They thought the suggestion showed the arrogance of feminists and the incompatibility of multiculturalism and gender equality.

However, there were some researchers found that the Puyuma’s matriarchal society changed gradually influenced by the mainstream patriarchy.  This study employed semi-structured interviews and participation observations to explore Puyuma children’s experiences about gender division of labor in their customs and ceremonies. The research found that merely classifying the indigenous society in terms of the patrilineal or matrilineal character would limit our understanding.  Properly speaking, the Puyuma is bilateral descent.  However, from children’s experiences, the researchers found boys from elementary schools had the opportunities to learn and practice their culture, gender roles and masculinity in the ceremonies and the Men’s House according to the age system, but there were no ceremonies belonged to girls at the same age. In many ceremonies nowadays, these girls felt like tourists, and they thought women were “prohibited” participating in men’s activities, and women’s jobs in the ceremonies were only serving and waiting according to the tradition.  Therefore, the gender division of labor in the ceremonies would affect women’s cultural learning and social participation.