Egypt’s Female Pharaohs:
The ancient Egyptians certainly believed in the wisdom of female rulers. Indeed, when there was a political crisis, the ancient Egyptians chose a woman time and again to fill the power vacuum—precisely because she was the least risky option. For the ancient Egyptians, placing women in power was often the best protection for the patriarchy in times of uncertainty.
Merneith the first women ruled Egypt:
In the first dynasty (ca. 3000-2890 B.C.), when her husband King Djet died, Queen Merneith stepped into power on behalf of her young son, instead of allowing an uncle to serve as a regent and manipulate his nephew.
Merneith was the first documented queen regent who shepherded her son to the throne and insured stability in Egypt. In the 12th dynasty (ca. 1985-1773 B.C.), when inbreeding (or other factors) meant there was no crown prince to take the throne at all, Neferusobek, the wife of the dead king, stepped forward to rule and guided Egypt into a new dynasty until her heir was ready to rule.
was a queen of ancient Egypt during the 4th dynasty. She may have been a daughter of Pharaoh Menkaure, wife of both kings Shepseskaf and Userkaf and mother of Sahure. Her Mastaba at Giza – tomb LG100 – is located very close to Menkaure’s pyramid complex. This close connection may point to a family relationship, but it is not quite clear exactly what that relationship is.
Hatshepsut the strongest Woman :
In Dynasty 18 (ca. 1550-1295 B.C.), a new trailblazer led Egypt during an era of growth and prosperity. When the king died after only three years on the throne, a mere toddler became pharaoh; the boy’s aunt stepped into the breach, and the era of Hatshepsut began. She led Egypt for more than two decades, the longest of any female king, and left the kingdom better than she found it.
Nefertiti the beautiful queen:
Later in Dynasty 18, when King Akhenaten foisted religious extremism upon his people, he made his wife Nefertiti his co-ruler. She must have been the safest option of holding power, and it was arguably she who had to clean up his mess after his death.
In Dynasty 19 (1295-1186 B.C.), another woman, Queen Tawosret, was placed as regent for a boy (not her own son) and even allowed to rule as king after his death, but she was no match for the warlord who removed her from power with impunity, seizing the crown for himself.
Best known of all was Cleopatra of the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305-285 B.C.), who eliminated her siblings to take the throne unaccosted, only to put all of her energies into creating a dynasty for her many children. In the end, even this seducer of Roman leaders ruled differently than her partner of the moment, Marc Antony. While he was the (defeated) aggressor in Parthia, she stayed in Egypt and tried to create calm. While he foolishly engaged in the Battle of Actium, she saw the writing on the wall and fled with her fleet, back to Egypt, where she could do some good.
Shajar al-Durr queen in Islamic period:
was the second Muslim woman (after Razia Sultana of Delhi) to become a monarch in Islamic history. She was the wife of As-Salih Ayyub, Egypt Sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty and later Izz al-Din Aybak, Egypt Sultan of the Bahri dynasty.
In political affairs, Shajar al-Durr played a crucial role after the death of her first husband during the Seventh Crusade against Egypt (1249–1250). She became the Sultana of Egypt on May 2, 1250, marking the end of the Ayyubid reign and the start of the Mamluk era.
There are several theories about the ethnic roots of Shajar al-Durr. Many Muslim historians believed that she was of Turkic origin and some believed that she was of Armenian origin.
It’s time to look to history, to the powerful women of ancient Egypt who were the salvation of their people again and again. What if today they were allowed to rule with the full force of their emotions–using their emotions—that trait most demonized about women–their ups and downs, their sadness and joy, their mercurial natures? Could this trait be harnessed to connect with others, to find compromise, to take the finger off the trigger, to look to a nuanced solution? It is this element of emotionality that could lead humanity through the trials and tribulations of the 21st century. We should let ancient history be our guide and let women be our salvation once more, this time with their own interests front and center.