17 Dec 2012

Exposing true role of women in wartime Guam critical for cultural empowerment

6:37 am on 17 December 2012

Research by a Guam academic is aimed at making people aware of the significant but little-known role of women during the Second World War.

Evelyn Flores, an associate professor at the University of Guam, says much has been made of the heroism of George Tweed, the only American soldier to survive Guam's occupation by Japan.

She says the role of Chamorro people in helping him evade capture has often been overlooked and, when it is acknowledged, it is only the part played by men that is mentioned.

But Professor Flores says without the help of Chamorro women Tweed would not have survived and it is essential that more people know about that.

"We have a matrilineal society and I argue that our society is one of the few that was an egalitarian society before contact and so women have a very powerful place in the family. And so what the mother does is as much a model for the men as it is for the boys as it is for the girls . So I think it's an empowerment of the whole culture as we bring these stories out to challenge and to correct the misinformation that's out there."