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‘Gender Equality’ Understanding in the Ethnic Minority Society

  • There are over 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. They are landing some where they feel that is their home. Just feeling so. Not thinking or considering as Vietnamese Kinh. Each group has it’s own way of tracing descent group membership. For example: Hmong group represents for a patrilineal society, where clan membership is via the father/male/chế độ phụ hệ. Meanwhile, Ê Đê group totally different from Hmong, where clan membership is via the mother/female/chế độ mẫu hệ. With Ê Đê group, where descent is traced through the mother/female/mẫu hệ. There are some group call ‘cognatic’ refers to a way of tracing descent group membership. Membership of a cognatic descent group is traced through both female and male lines. This is different from ‘unilineal descent where descent is traced exclusively through either the female (matrilineal) or male (patrilineal) line. What is a ‘descent group’?! A descent group is a group of people relalted by kinhship descent who act together for some purposes, e.g., ‘who own the land/land ownership’.A 'descent group' is a group of people related by kinship descent who act together for some purposes, e.g., ‘land ownership’ is a crucial and persistent customary law to present their traditional political civil identity. Some cognatic societies are egalitarian, i.e., they have no hereditary chiefs, e.g. H're. However, some cognatic societies can be very hierarchical, e.g., Tongan society which is called "chiefly". (Tonga Island in Pacific). Some societies with patrilineal clans, such as in the New Guinea Highlands, are very egalitarian. Whether a society is egalitarian or chiefly depends on other factors. None of these societies have what we call 'gender equality' because most kin-ordered societies have a gendered division of labour with men having one set of roles and women another. With cognatic descent and matrilineal descent do allow for greater sharing of social power between men and women, and therefore a greater degree of gender equality. H're are an example of a society with cognatic descent, egalitarianism and they are the best practicing ‘gender equality’. Patrilineal descent is a way of maintaining clans, as in Vietnamese and Hmong society. Cognatic societies have family groups, not clans. Family groups are made up of the descendents of both sets of grandparents. The technical term for a descent group in a cognatic society is a 'kindred'.

    Tran Thi :Lanh

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