The Lao Matri-System, Empowerment, and Globalisation

Type Working Paper
Title The Lao Matri-System, Empowerment, and Globalisation
The spotlight in this article is on the strength and vitality of the Lao matrisystem and its institutions, dynamics, and capacity to counteract the negative gender impact of the processes that attend globalisation. It will be shown that the worldwide historical trend to displace or to defeat matrilocal and matrilineal societies has not yet undermined the Lao matri-system and cultural heritage upholding the relatively high value and status of Lao women and girls.
The main findings of a small snowball study, conducted in 2009 in Vientiane, will be presented in an effort to discover the impact of globalisation on the matricultural heritage. Case studies will be described that show the impact globalisation had on ethnic minority women from communities with a firm patriarchal tradition. The adoption of aspects of the matri-system seems to be attractive to them. Attention will be paid to the unique and precious value of the matrilocal marriage as a means of protection for girls and women in the broader context of imbalanced sexratios in China and domestic violence in Laos. A brief conclusion is drawn and offers suggestions to highlight the importance of the social matri-system as a precious cultural heritage, not only for Laos, but also as an example for the worrying number of societies that are characterized by son-preference and far too many “missing” girls.

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