Gender Roles in Economics

Timpaus economics is based on a broad understanding of the importance of gender complementary roles. How men and women share joint responsibility in household economics is nicely illustrated in a myth where the husband is condemned for providing inadequate economic support and held responsible for the suicide of his wife and mother of their first-born infant (Broch, 1996).

In the household women do most of the cooking, bring water from the wells, and wash clothes, but at times are assisted in these chores by their menfolk. In periods of drought, when water has to be carried over some distance, men and women share the labor. Both men and women sweep floors, sew and mend clothes. Gathering food in the littoral zone is a joint effort. Fishing is exclusively a male activity among the Timpaus Banggai. However, this is a common feature of many Indonesian pasisir cultures and is one criterion used to separate these societies from the Bajau where members of both genders are culturally allowed to fish. However, Banggai men and women share the tasks of cleaning, drying, and selling fish.

Women and men cooperate closely in making copra, the most important economic activity on Timpaus. Although only the men climb the palms, both genders split and cure the nuts. Also, when large work groups are organized for copra production, both women and men are called on to cooperate.

The wife is the family treasurer in many Timpaus households. She keeps the money earned by family members, takes care of bookkeeping, and redistributes the income toward particular goals. If expensive items of consumption or investment in fishing gear, for example, are necessary, the issue is usually discussed between wife and husband until an agreement is reached.

When a husband buys commodities for village trade outside Timpaus, his wife usually runs the retail business from their home.

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