“Among the indigenous Aka, women and men live in equality”
Every year on 8 March, people around the world take part in International Women's Day, which strives towards equality between men and women. FAIRMED employee and ethnologist Johanna Vögeli experienced first hand how gender equality is a reality among the indigenous Aka people in the Central African Republic.
“Because the majority of social, economic and ritual areas of community life are shared by the couple, the husbands and wives spend a great deal of time together. This encourages a closeness and intimacy in which the woman is equal to the man,” says Vögeli of her experiences with the Aka.
For example, couples go into the forest together to collect natural products such as mushrooms, caterpillars or fruits. “Earlier, when there was still abundant wild game in the jungle, they would hunt together and it was the women's job to startle the animals from the undergrowth and to keep watch over the hunt nets,” says Vögeli.
“Children often seek comfort from their fathers”
Johanna Vögeli learned all of this in the course of a recent trip to the Central African Republic, where she visited the Aka community in the FAIRMED project area in the Lobaye prefecture. She was particularly surprised at the active and equal role of men in the tasks of childcare.
“During my stay, I observed how the Aka fathers take abundant and tender care of their children, and I often saw men with babies in their arms. Young children often seek comfort from their fathers,” says Johanna Vögeli. Equally impressive was the assertiveness and self-assured manner of the women when addressing others, be they men or women.