Celebrating Women of Bali on International Women’s Day

Aislinn O’Neill, Founder and Chief Wanderer

7 March 2019

On an island steeped in culture, Balinese women play a traditional role, carrying out daily routines and rituals, that differ from the role of Balinese men. Life is very different from the life we know in the West but as Bali has increased access to technology, information and resources and more exposure to western ways of life, the role of Balinese women has adapted.

As we celebrate all that is female this International Women’s day, here are some interesting facts you may not know about these elegant and strong women.

Traditional Life

The traditional role of women in Bali is to “maintain a balance of harmony among families”. Women are the backbone of the family and rise with the crowing of the cockerel to set about their daily household tasks, ritual duties, ceremony preparations and produce, transport, and sell food on market days.

Balinese women carrying fruit in traditional dress during a ceremony.

Ubud, Bali

Daily Ceremonies

From an early age, Balinese girls are taught to make intricate flower offerings known as Canang Sari, as well as taught rituals and prayers that will become part of their daily life.

“Marriage can often be an emotional time for a new bride, as she welcomes her new family but says goodbye to her own.”

Married Life

A Balinese woman traditionally marries early and takes up residence in her husband’s family ‘compound’, becoming the responsibility of her new husband’s family. This can often be an emotional time for a new bride, as she welcomes her new family but says goodbye to her own. 

However, Balinese women not only manage the household and raise the children, they often carry out physically demanding labour in the rice fields, as well as their household and ritual duties. Balinese women show strength as well as grace.

Balinese woman in a village outside Ubud with a basket of offerings.

Traditional Dance

Balinese dancers are respected by the local community and the best enjoy a high status in society, often marrying into royalty or wealth. Young Balinese girls are taught traditional Balinese dance at a very early age. Balinese music is often played by the mother while the baby is in the womb, in the hope that they will become a respected Balinese dancer. Female dancers traditionally tend to stop dancing after marriage and devote themselves to their house and family.

Modern Life

Over time it is now common for Balinese women to pursue economic roles outside the family roles – running businesses, teaching languages, trading in the market place.

As island life adapts to modernism, tourism, technology and access to information. The role of the Balinese women and men have adapted but one thing is apparent – the Balinese will strive to balance any modern career with traditional ceremonial life.

Book Your Bali Experience in March for Sept 2019 

and receive a very special gift

“I met this woman at a market in Bangli, Bali, three years ago. She struck me as having an inspiring, steely elegance to her, and I knew I wanted to try and capture this in a photo. To celebrate International Women’s Day in March, if you book a trip to Bali with the wonderful Wanderah you’ll have the choice of receiving this or one of two other images as a beautiful print for your wall”.