Mongolian Women

Mongolian Women in Traditional Costume

Mongolian women wearing bright and colorful local costumes

As you tour Mongolia, you will encounter more women than men. Your guide and cook will probably be women and most of the shop assistants too.

Women’s domination of the service industries goes back centuries...

Ancient nomads

Mongolia’s nomadic culture, hot summers and cold winters created equality between men and women millennia ago. The harsh conditions made every person crucial for survival.

A nomadic woman spent most of her day raising the family’s livestock. They turned animal skin into clothing; wool into tents; goat hair into cashmere; goat milk into candy; and horse milk into alcohol.

Some women occupied the most powerful religious positions as shamans—acting as intermediaries between the physical and spiritual world...

Mongolian Woman Shaman

While women maintained Mongolia’s entire subsistence economy, the men focused on hunting, fighting and building an empire.

In Mongolia, women’s dominance of the economy and religious structures gave them power Europeans only dreamed of. They had the right to divorce and also to inherit their husband’s estate. If their husbands died they became the head of their household—a law which had political consequences...

After the death of Genghis Khan, women took up the reigns of power in three-quarters of the Mongol empire. They enjoyed rights and privileges only recently won in the West.

Mothers still whisper the legendary stories of Mongolian queens and warriors to their daughters today.

The modern woman

Nomadic life, geography and history have thus conspired to produce a strong and independent modern generation.

Mongolian Fashion

Genghis Khan had a taste for beautiful women and today’s generation have inherited this genetic legacy.

The modern Mongolian woman has combined her genetic heritage with a rich cultural wardrobe to make waves in the fashion world...

Mongolian Models

Mongolian models are sought after in Asia and each year a Miss Mongolia enters the Miss World contest.

Dating Mongolian Women

Mongolian women are strikingly beautiful, strong willed, proud and independent.

One legendary Mongolian princess—Khutulun—refused to marry any man who could not beat her in wrestling. She collected a stake of one hundred horses from every man she defeated. One confident suitor gambled a thousand horses. She never married.

Mongolian women in business and politics

As in the days of empire, women do not confine themselves to 'traditional roles'.

Today women make up seventy percent of university students and ninety percent of language students. Women are better educated than their male counterparts; they speak more languages and speak them better.

As a result, thousands of women now own businesses which drive the Mongolian economy. Women run many of Mongolia’s biggest tour operations.

They have not forgotten their political heritage. In 1990, women occupied twenty-five percent of parliamentary seats in the national capital.

Mongolian Women in sports

Every Naadam Mongolia women participate in two of the three 'manly' sports: archery and horse racing.

Since the legend of Princess Khutulun, women have not wrestled. Mongolian men know when they're beat!

Mongolian Archers at Naadam

The Nomadic Mongolian Woman

Nomadic Mongolian Woman

But for nomads, life continues as it has for millennia.

Nomadic women often work alongside their husbands. But there is a division of labor. Men focus on their horses while women look after the smaller animals.

The home—a felt tent called a ger—is also divided with one side for the woman the other side for the man.

Mongolian names

Parents often name their daughters after colors, flowers, rivers, and celestial objects:

Altantsetseg (Golden flower)
Selenge (a Mongolian river)
Narantuyaa (Sun-beam)
Sarangerel (Moonlight)

Women’s Festivals

Mongolia’s respect for women has led it to declare Women's Day on March eighth, a national holiday.

Woman's Day in Mongolia

If you plan to be in Mongolia on the above day, make sure you book your restaurant early!

Related Pages

Return from Mongolian Women to Mongolian People

Return from Mongolian Women to Mongolia Travel Guide


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