the purpose of this study is to contribute to the comprehension of gender relations between the aymaraof northern chile. this comprehension is gained through a greater understanding of the cultural meanings that this society assigns to gender and their relation with social experiences. this paper shows how the gender scheme which operates among contemporary aymara, is constructed and transformed throughout the lifetimes of the individuals from conception to death. the difference between men and women are modified by mediating factors provoking moments of greater or lesser value for one group or another. to give merit to the aforementioned aymaraterminology utilized in the designation of the life cycle phases is defined. subsequently, it is shown how these phases acquire meaning with the different activities and "rites of passage" which distinguish each stage. at the same time these stages allow individuals to establish the distinct genders.