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Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference. October 27 – November 2

Gilbert Islands

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Gilbert Islands

In the Gilberts, we have in a family a father, mother and five or six children. The father's duty is to see that his family is safe and to fish, cut copra etc. The mother's duties include carrying all the family's worries. She must look after the whole family. She sees that there is enough food to eat, she does the washing, and other housework, and she even goes out fishing or out to the bush.

Each family has a history and it is the duty of a son and a daughter to learn from their grandparents and also to know that relations are very important in everything. It is important that the children know their relatives so as to prevent them from falling in love with their relatives.

Arranged marriage is one of our strong customs. All parents choose their children's partners. They choose someone who has a good background, someone who has a small family, and someone who is a hardworking boy or girl.

And now let me talk about women.

Before there was no place for women to go and talk. They used to just listen to the men talking. The women in olden days were not very important. They were told to just be happy, eat, and enjoy what they have.

Women were not allowed to talk, but nowadays we know that most of the women in the Gilberts go to school and there are members of the House, members of Councils, and in government departments some of our women are working there. Now the government is trying to help our women by breaking down some of the culture. There is the Health and Welfare section which is divided into the Family Planning, Health Education, and Women's Clubs – all of which deal with page 2 culture and family traditions.