Men and women are not equal in this novel. Women's position is lower than that of men who dominate over everything and suppress women. This is especially seen at the family level where the husband is the sole decision maker and the wife just accepts those decisions without question. Ole Kaelo has a very easy time courting and marrying his wife. A woman is not supposed to resist a man who wants to marry her as per Nasilian tradition whether she loves him or not.
We are told "She accepted him without any resistance. Tradition did not allow her to offer any and as expected of her, she did not resist" (p.29). Mama Milanoi is an unequal marriage partner to Ole Kaelo. She leaves decision making to her husband and does not oppose any of his decisions. She refuses to be drawn into the discussion about the coaching of her daughters by Joseph saying "It was Taiyo's father's territory" (p.56).Mama Milanoi cannot oppose him for "...in her culture there was no room for dissent, especially if the subject was in conformity with the culture" (p.61).
In this society, "...women had no say. It was a patriarchal society where the Emakererei and her ilk were fighting to find relevance with little success" (p.62). Such gender imbalance uplifts the man over the woman. In their case, it leaves Ole Kaelo with the sole responsibility of making final decisions on all matters affecting the family. We are also told that Mama Milanoi has been held captive by her husband who "...never for once allowed her to express her own opinion on any matter however small it was" (p.277). This suppression has prevented her from speaking her mind and opposing the subjection of her daughters to outdated cultural practices.
Resian is opposed to her father's hiring of Joseph to coach them about Nasilian culture. She says "I am beginning to think it is disadvantageous being a woman in this society" (p.73). She finds fault with the plan reasoning that if they were sons, they would not be subjected to such cultural coaching. Resian regrets living in a society where men thought they had right to every woman's body (p.143). This is after their near-rape by two men. Such unjustified rights emanate from the fact that men deem themselves as superior to women and can do whatever they want with women.