Relative Status of Men and Women

The status differential between men and women, and especially between husbands and wives, is considerable. Women's formal authority in community, kin group, and religion is virtually nonexistent, though they may exercise some informal influence. Nandi wives give great public deference to their husbands. The section on the economy (above) explained husbands' and wives' rights in property and produce. Husbands have the right to control the family herds. However, if a husband has a pattern of violating his wife's interests and wishes for those animals in which her rights predominate, she can secure from the elders' court a judgment for him to desist. Though wives have total control over certain economic assets of their own (vegetables, chickens, and milk from the evening milking), the incomes they gain as a result are tiny compared with those derived from male-controlled assets.

Women are active in arranging marriages. Indeed, it is usually said that the initial contacts that lead to most marriages are made between women, and both sexes are members of the parties that negotiate marriages.

Young people of both sexes are at the mercy of their elders in many life decisions. For example, their parents will decide whether to provide money for their school fees so that they can continue in school. There are instances in which a mother will find a way to get money for this purpose that a father has refused. Marital decisions are usually partly, but not completely, a matter of choice (see below).

Widows have much more freedom and independence than do wives, including the right to inherit and manage their house property, and to come and go at their will.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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