During the 1980s and ‘90s Kristen Hawkes, distinguished professor of anthropology, and her team spent time with the Hadza, a tribe of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. “What emerged out of our observations was how important economically the old ladies were,” she says. “Who woulda’ thought of that!”
The effect isn’t limited to grandmothers. Sisters and daughters also pitch in with child rearing in these communities. In these instances, the women are providing valuable benefits to the community.