Published on : Friday, March 17, 2017
As PNG focuses on forthcoming elections, world just celebrated International Women’s Day giving special importance to the womenfolk who may be a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and female colleagues. Women have been subjugated for centuries and somewhat identified as second class race in male chauvinist world in spite of significant contributions in various sectors and facets in life.
Women’s primary role is bearing children, taking care of the domestic animals, making food gardens and household chores as considered by traditional PNG. These everyday jobs become especially tough when the mother has to feed large number of domestic animals along with many small children. Among all their daily great efforts, these women created netted string bags known as bilums which were used to ease their loads.
Till date no-one is not quite aware how and why those ropes were twisted and looped to create those strong string bags. Those bags were very handy even today. Marilyn strathern and Andrew Strathern, famous British anthropologists couple whom spent many years in the highlands of PNG believed that bilum was made through ritual practices in spirit worships. Women created those loops and ropes while singing ritual songs and hymns. Furthermore, in ‘the Gender of Gift’ Marilyn never denied the fact that Melanesian women were physically powerful and equal to men, a point on which she made a comparison with the European perspective on gender issues adding a new dimension to the insight on Melanesian women.
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