Who runs the world? Girls! In these matriarchal societies, these aren’t just women-empowering lyrics in a Beyoncé song but a fact of life. Matriarchal societies are those in which women hold positions of power and authority and are the primary decision-makers in both their families and community. While patriarchies have been the norm in most societies throughout history, the following five countries are home to matriarchal societies that show what the world would look like if it were indeed run by women.
1. India’s Khasi Tribe
The state of Meghalaya in northeastern India is home to the Khasi tribe, which is known for its matriarchal society. In the Khasi culture, property and wealth are inherited through the female line, and women have a strong say in household and community decisions. Women are also free to choose their own partners, and divorce is not stigmatized.
2. China’s Mosuo People
The Mosuo people in southwestern China are often referred to as the “last matrilineal society in China.” In this matriarchal society, any property is passed down through the female line, and women are the primary decision-makers in the family. Children are raised by their mothers and maternal uncles, and there is no concept of marriage as we know it. Instead, men and women have relationships known as “walking marriages,” in which they are free to choose their partners and can end the relationship at any time.
3. Indonesia’s Minangkabau People
The Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia, have a matriarchal society in which property and wealth are inherited through the female line. Women hold a high status in Minangkabau culture and are often the ones who make decisions regarding family and community affairs. However, men still hold important positions in the government and religious institutions.
4. Ghana’s Akan People
The Akan people of Ghana have a matriarchal society in which inheritance and succession are traced through the female line. Women hold a high status in Akan culture and are often the ones who make important decisions regarding family and community affairs. Men still hold positions of power in government and religious institutions, but women have a strong presence in Akan society.
5. Costa Rica’s Bribri People
The Bribri are an Indigenous community in Costa Rica who have a matrilineal society. Women are the heads of households and are responsible for passing down their culture, traditions, and land to their daughters. Men have important roles in Bribri society, but they do not hold the same level of authority as women.
Matriarchal societies offer a unique perspective on gender roles and relationships, ultimately challenging the traditional view of male dominance and patriarchies. By examining these women-first societies, we can gain a better understanding of the diversity of human culture and the many ways in which people have organized themselves throughout history.