Relative Status of Men and Women

Na generally reply to questions about status that women and men are equally important and that both have equal control over their lives and input in household decisionmaking. A man or a woman may head a Na household. The term dabu is used to refer both to the head of the household and to leaders in general (Shih, 1993, p. 157). The head of the household is not necessarily in charge of making major decisions for the household. Most Na report that if a major decision needs to be made, the entire household, or the adults in it, will discuss the decision, reach an agreement, and then proceed with the action agreed upon. In these discussions, informants say that decisions are reached by universal agreement. One woman, in her forties, laughed when I asked her if she liked being the head of the household. She said she would rather have more freedom and fewer worries, but someone needed to do it. However, within some households, decisions related more closely to the work of one gender or the other may fall to a leading member of that gender.

General inability to agree is often the reason that a Na household may divide. In the case of household division, a senior male member will often decide how household property will be divided and what resources should be given to the new household branching off. Na say that this is preferred because it is believed that a mother may be partial to her siblings and so will be less fair, while an uncle will not be influenced by such partiality.

The majority of Na have customarily been subsistence farmers. However, those men who engaged in longdistance trade in earlier times controlled the money which they earned. While they may have contributed substantial amounts to the household budget, which then came under the control of the household head, they decided how much to retain for private use. This model still continues in many instances. In the case of young Na working at the primary tourist village, several households reported that young men would generally keep more of the earnings for themselves, while young women would generally contribute almost all of the earnings to the household.

Na men and women are both in control of their sexuality. Either can initiate sexual relations

(although women may do so less directly), either can take other lovers, and either can end a relationship at any time.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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