The society of the Marshall Islands primarily has a social structure that is matrilineal. This means that women are own "a great deal of power" because they predominate in making decisions "behind-the-scenes" even though men are seen as the "public performers".
In the past, Marshall islander women who belong to the upper class are commonly distinguished by wearing "intricate tattoos", and were spoken to using "restricted speech genres" and "speaking styles". At present, modern-day women in the Marshall Islands may wear "American-style dress modified it to local norms" where the emerging elite may wear "costly dress and personal adornment".
There are social welfare programs for women, particularly in urban areas, that had been supported by the United States, by religious groups and by other nations belonging to the so-called Pacific Rim region since the 1960s.