Estonia’s Kihnu – the women’s island
With men out at sea fishing, women are in charge of this Baltic community and have been running the show for centuries.
Kihnu, Estonia – Lost in the Baltic Sea off Estonia’s coast, a little island is home to one of the world’s last matriarchal societies. Women are in charge of this community of 600 souls and have been running the show for centuries.
The men of Kihnu, who are mostly fishermen, go out to sea for months at a time, leaving behind wives and children. Women govern the island in their absence, and act as guardians of its traditions and culture.
In Kihnu, folk traditions are part of everyday life and are of the utmost significance for the community. Women play a key role in preserving this culture. Children are taught traditional musical instruments at school as well as Kihnu’s dialect.
Women from all walks of life proudly wear the traditional Kihnu dress.
People often gather at the community centre, which is also the island’s museum, to dance and sing traditional songs.
In 2003, Kihnu culture was recognised as a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.