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



I would like to speak to you about French Polynesia, as the New Caledonian women and the New Hebrides woman have done, but there will be a difference because I am a Polynesian, and it would be interesting for you to compare.

By chance, the Tahitian women have not the same kind of life as the New Caledonian and the New Hebridean. Even in the olden days the Tahitian women had a very high position in the society and they could even become chiefs. This is so in other Polynesian groups. In Tahiti, the women have always considered themselves the equal of the men, and they always did what they wanted to do.

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In our time, the boys were not as well educated as the girls. Both went to school, but when the boys reach the age of twelve they are taken from school to work on the plantations, to go fishing, to work for the family. But, the girls could stay at school and learn more. And now, these girls have married those who are not as well-educated as themselves. This has become a problem in many households because the women know much more than the men and it is very difficult for them. And the women want to dominate the men, and if they cannot do that, they at least want to be on the same level.

I want to speak a little now about the education of our children today. I have three daughters and they got their secondary education in Tahiti in the French school and the girls got their GCE “A” Level certificate. We then sent our daughters to France for further education. I am a farmer, even though I am also well-educated. I have a very good and close relationship with my three daughters, but I can see that some of my friends do not have such a good relationship with their children and I feel that now there is a big gap between the children and the parents. Many young girls now have this type of education. After some years, they come back to Tahiti and it takes time for them to become once more Tahitian-minded because they had very little contact with their own people.

When they begin to work, they always need the family so they come back to the family. But they want to make the parents do things in the French way, and the parents do not always agree. So, with all the education you have got, you still need your mother on the farm, to give you money. You are not able, with all that education, to get enough money for yourself. It is a big problem now, because all those children who come back from France are taxed by the French government and it tries to get them to do what it wants. But we are trying to prevent this and we hope that we shall be able to help these children and take them back into our society.