The theme for this year’s International women’s day is gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, calling on people to “imagine a gender-equal world” that is free of biases, stereotypes and discrimination against women.
We know for sure that women’s roles in society have made an extensive improvement in their lifestyles in the past few decades. These roles have changed drastically from women only being able to stay home and take care of the house duties to women now being able to vote and even run for president.
But if we look back in history, it wasn’t always like this. At least in Mexico. At least in Aztec times.
The roles of women in society today is very different compared to what the roles of women were in Aztec society. Although Aztecs in the popular imagination are dominated by brutal warriors, glorious kings, and bloody priests, reinforcing their masculinity through ruthless displays of violence, and asserting their dominance through the spectacles of warfare and sacrifice, women in Aztec culture were powerful and effective figures, possessing tangible rights and responsibilities, and clearly recognized as indispensable to society’s collective success.
Female and male were considered complementary roles, regarded as completely different but of equal value. Women held positions of influence not only as healers, midwives, matchmakers, teachers, and priestesses but also as leaders and administrators in their districts, as craftspeople, merchants, and marketplace overseers, responsible for the good conduct of trade, pricing, assigning tributes, and provisioning the army.
According to Women in Latin American and the Caribbean by Marysa Navarro and Virginia Sanchez Korrol, the Aztec Empire fostered ideas about gender that promoted the equality of women in regards to their religious, political and domestic worth.
Women were also expected to perform their domestic rituals of cooking, cleaning, including sweeping, and childrearing, but these activities were considered symbolic and literal parallels to the battlefield.
Their roles were believed to be crucial to the military and logistical functioning of their society. The failure to accomplish these tasks led to men’s failure on the battlefield, as well as spiritual consequences.
And also women were allowed to inherit land, belongings, and positions of power.
So now you see why it was not always like that.
We must learn a little bit from our Mesoamerican cultures and deconstruct learned stereotypes and other biases.
Let’s give women back their power to become again a gender-equal world.