Leadership in Public Arenas

Men dominate politics, both traditional and modern. Customary restraints on women speaking in public continue to limit their political roles and leadership opportunities. Men organize the regular meetings and moots at which they resolve dispute and make decisions for the community. Much informal politicking occurs each evening when men gather to drink kava, and women, who are forbidden to drink, are absent from these circles. Men also claim a series of chiefly titles that are associated with male personal names. Within national political arenas, no woman from Tanna has yet won a seat in either the island's local government councils, or in Vanuatu's national parliament.

Women may acquire a sort of authority reflective of that of their husband. The wives of men of chiefly rank may wear four feather headdresses, instead of two, at important ritual occasions. Wives of local leaders typically are also responsible for constituting and leading women's dance teams. And all women, as they age, accrue increasing amounts of authority over children and grandchildren.

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Pregnancy And Childbirth

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