Leadership in Public Arenas

Leadership in public political arenas is almost exclusively restricted to men. This is not to say that women do not have power and do not make decisions. Women have considerable influence over the timing of major festivals (which depend on produce which the women control), over reproduction and child-rearing, and over subsistence.

Often, women meet informally in gender-exclusive groups and discuss these matters. But women's deliberations and decisions, whether individual or collective, are not aired in public village meetings.

In contrast, almost all of men's political discussions are conducted publicly in full view of both genders. An exception involves the aforementioned men's initiation complex, which excludes women. But political meetings and litigation are public. When "trouble" (paaw) breaks out in the village, big men call together informal meetings of concerned parties for talk, or simply show up at the scene of a dispute. Soon a crowd gathers, and public discussions (moots, literally "talk" or kundi) are held. Although women are permitted to talk at these meetings, and sometimes do so when urged, men dominate.

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