Welcome to Kinhu: the Island of Women

Welcome to Kinhu: the Island of Women

Kihnu is the largest island in the Gulf of Riga, and the seventh-largest in Estonia. It is also Europe’s last surviving matriarchy. That is right, Kinhu is the Island of Women powered by the strength and resilience of women.

In the early 19th century men in Kinhu took up jobs at sea. Fishing and hunting seals kept them away from home for months at a time. In response, Kihnu women stepped in and ran the island. Otherwise traditional female roles expanded to include anything their society needed to thrive and function. Eventually, this became ingrained in Kihnu’s heritage, as Unesco noted when it inscribed aspects of the culture on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

From fixing tractor engines to performing church services when the Russian Orthodox priest wasn’t available, Kinhu women have done it all.

There is a famous saying, “If something needs to be done, a woman on Kihnu has done it, and another woman will probably do it again soon.”

As an outsider one may think, Kinhu women are making some statements with the ‘women being in charge,’ but the truth is that’s their culture! It’s embedded in their hearts and minds. It’s who they are: fiercely independent with unparalleled knowledge of their traditional culture, surpassing traditional gender roles as they carry every aspect of life with wit, strength, and sheer hard work.

When next at Riga, plan a trip to Kinhu: An Island of Women

Featured image: Documentarytube


Written by Dhriti Chaturvedi

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