The extended family is the basic unit of Balinese society, and several generations share each family compound. Gender divisions are still distinct, though less so than they used to be.

Gender Roles

While some men build houses, it’s the women who are responsible for transporting the building materials on their heads and it can be shocking to see them transporting slabs of concrete of great piles of bricks. Only men play the gamelan, though there are male and female dancers. Nowadays some women carve and paint, but this is a new development.

A woman is required to bring up to 70% of income into the household, as well as run the home and take care of the children. Should she ask for a divorce, she must move out of her husband’s family compound to return to her own family, and is not permitted to take her children with her.

Land ownership is handed down through patriarchal lines.

Old & Young

While the able adults are out in the rice fields or at their jobs, the older women often stay in to make and distribute the offerings, and look after the children and animals, while the older men do odd jobs around the compound or socialise.

Young girls learn skills from the older women, from dance to cooking to making offerings and baskets, and boys learn professional skills from their fathers – wood and stone carving, for example.

Rice Harvest Woman