Change in Attitudes Beliefs and Practices Regarding Gender

The increasingly intensive and prolonged contact with people outside the community, the introduction of Western schools and national government agencies, and various economic activities are related to profound changes in Shipibo society. This is particularly true for women, who now begin school at the age of 6 and often continue through high school. A girl's traditional role was to learn all the domestic skills including pottery and weaving and begin having babies at the age of 13 or 14. That is now more the exception than the rule. Some young Shipibo women now have enough literacy and clerical skills to seek employment in the city of Pucallpa.

The lives of boys have also changed because education through high school is now followed by military service, technical education in the city, or work as a bilingual teacher. The boys no longer spend their time learning the survival and hunting lore of the tropical forest from their fathers or the trick of harpooning a 100 kg, 4 m paiche (Aripaima gigas, the largest freshwater fish in the southern hemisphere and possibly in the world) from a 2 m dugout canoe in the middle of a lake swarming with flesh-eating fish such as piranha. The boys now learn reading and writing, the military history of Peru, and how to march. Whereas there was no unemployment in the subsistence economy, the boys must now seek jobs in the city because they cannot live by farming or fishing and there are no jobs in the village.

The necessary activities that defined the gender and identities of both men and women in the old Shipibo society are slowly disappearing or ceasing to exist altogether.

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