Mother’s Day is a time for children, grandchildren, and spouses all over the world to say thank you. But did you know Mother’s Day is a different date all over the world? For the US, Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May; in the UK, it falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, three weeks before Easter, and in much of the Middle East, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.
No matter where you are in the world, women are known for the many roles they play: from feeding the family, care-taking and cleaning, and offering emotional support, not to mention earning money and developing incredible careers.
Moms are known for juggling an endless amount of responsibilities without much complaint, nor support. This Mother’s Day, let’s explore some unique societies around the world where women do, in fact, rule the roost.
1. Western Sahara
In Sahrawi culture, the women holds the power in the marriage and, if her husband displeases her, then she can divorce into becoming a revered member of Sahrawi society. Divorced Sahrawi women are actually highly respected and much sought after in society by male suitors, and oftentimes more so than an unmarried women.
Haenyeo are female divers on Korea’s Jeju Island. They play a critical role in society and are responsible for bringing home money to their families through the seafood and kelp they catch while diving. In this society, the men look after the children and go shopping. Haenyeo are known and celebrated for their independent spirit, courage, and drive.
There is a strong, powerful campaign for women’s rights in Iceland. On October 24, 1975, 90% of the country’s females refused to work, cook, or look after children, and Iceland is at the forefront of the paternity-leave movement, giving moms the opportunity to succeed at work while their husbands tend to child-rearing.
4. Southern China
Mosuo women living near Tibet traditionally handle business decisions, whereas men handle politics. Empowerment of women is important, and there is no concept of marriage. Rather, the woman chooses her man, and any children that result from these encounters are raised by the mother’s extended family and take their mother’s name.
In Minangkabau society, law requires all property to be owned and transferred from mother to daughter. The Minangkabau believe that the mother is the most important person in society, and women select chiefs. Women also have the power to remove chiefs from office if they feel he failed his duties.
6. Northern India
Rather than men, Khasi women own land and property in Meghalaya. Tradition dictates that the youngest daughter of the family inherits all the property. They also act as caretaker of aged parents and unmarried siblings.
7. North America
The indigenous peoples of upstate New York between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls – the Iroquois – truly valued their women. Women held the power and wealth, which was passed down through the mother’s side. After marriage, husbands moved into their wives’ homes with the wife’s extended family, and if any marriage didn’t work, the husband could be pushed out. While the Iroquois nations were ruled by chiefs, they could be removed and replaced at any time by a council of women elders.
8. Northern Pakistan
The Kalash people in Northern Pakistan are famous for protecting a peaceful society. In Kalash culture, women choose their partners. If their men don’t keep them happy, these men can be discarded with no repercussions.
9. Democratic Republic of the Congo
The men of the Aka people have been described as the “best dads in the world.” They are known for caring for their babies and being in charge of cooking while the women are out hunting.