The role of a true I-kiribati woman
A true I-Kiribati woman born, raised and taught all the fine Kiribati ways of doing things has much difficulty in understanding why her counterparts out there are kicking up a lot of fuss about gender equality, freedom and rights.
Her experience of life beginning from the time she was a little girl so much loved and cared for by her parents, brothers and sisters, cousins and other family members and relatives simply amount to her being happy and contended with life. As she grows up she is taught the many skills and moulded to practice certain virtues and qualities that a woman should possess to make her feel ready and competent to be counted well among other women as a truly I-Kiribati woman. Traditionally, a true I-Kiribati woman is expected to be skilled in cooking, food preservation, dancing, washing, cultivation of a taro like plant called “babai”, cleaning, weaving and in attending to and caring for young children, the aged and the disabled in the family. In a modern Kiribati she is expected to learn additional skills such as needlework, embroidery, sewing, washing of clothes, ironing and the like. All of these skills must be accompanied with the fine virtues and qualities of thrift, kindness, humility, patience, compassion, endurance and obedience for without such virtues a woman cannot be regarded as a truly I-Kiribati woman ready to perform the role of a real woman of the home. It is the responsibility of a mother or a grandmother to teach and raise her daughter or grand-daughter to have these skills and qualities so that one day the young woman would be able to play her womanly role and be the source of pride for the entire family particularly where she becomes a wife, a mother or, as often said, the real woman of the home in the family of her husband.
Dancing is another way for young women to express their beauty and happiness.
It is therefore a common belief in Kiribati that the beauty and happiness of a family has a lot to do with the skills and virtues of the real woman of the home. This is why it is a very important task for parents planning the future of their son to ensure that their son is married to a young woman who has all the necessary skills, virtues and qualities to become the real woman of his home.
Nowadays, with the heavy focus on western education more and more Kiribati girls have missed out on the opportunity to be taught and raised to have the basic skills and virtues necessary for the making of a happy and lovely family and this lack is believed to be a major contributing factor to the weakening and eventual breakdown of many families nowadays in Kiribati.