resource. When the Chiang Mai night market was just set up in the early 1970s, a few Hmong women began to trade in the market. Furthermore, with the development of tourism in Northern Thailand, more and more tourists were attracted by the Hmong’s excellent clothing and handicrafts. This has provided a good chance for Hmong women to make money. The women are actively participating in business, contributing to the sustenance of their families.
Hmong women’s trade ways:
1. Trade in local villages. In tourist villages such as the Khun Krang Village, women need not leave home, but rather may sell their goods in the market alongside the road. This roadside market has been operating for the past seventeen years. More than 50 families own their booths in this market. The sellers are mostly female and the oldest one is over 70 years old. They sell all kinds of handicrafts and local agricultural products such as flowers, vegetables and fruit, etc.
2. Trade in Chiang Mai City. Many of the Hmong women who trade in the Chiang Mai night bazaar come from the Maesa Mai and Doi Pui Villages. In Maesa Mai, some Hmong villagers have been selling all kinds of souvenirs in the market since the 1970s. Now most of businesswomen still live in the village. They travel between Chiang Mai city and the village every day, working in the village during the day and trading in the night market in the evening. These Hmong women who are engaged in business are farmers as well as traders. However, some women have moved from the village and now live near Chiang Mai City.
3. Trade in other cities. Some women from the village engage in trading as a permanent occupation. They settle down in the lowlands and often go to Bangkok or other cities to trade. About one hundred Maesa Mai villagers live in Southern Thailand. Some of them are married women and have moved away from the home village with their families to engage in trade on a fulltime basis.
The educational development of the Hmong women and their important economic role in society help raise their social status and that of their families. Some Hmong women such as female representatives elected by the villagers participate in deciding on the important affairs of the community. The women’s social status can be viewed from the decision-making processes in the family. In some families, the wives can join their husbands in deciding on the important family problems. Some men said that they would listen to their wives’ sensible advice.
The Hmong gender relations and traditional culture are inseparable. In Hmong traditional society, gender inequality begins at birth with the burial of the placenta. The burial of placentas signify the distinction between the males and females. Men are considered superior to women. For a traditional Hmong woman, her value lies in being a good girl, a good wife, a good mother and mother-in-law, and a good