THE OLDEST KNOWN FEMINIST


Hatshepsut was the fifth Pharaoh of the Egyptian Dynasty of Egypt. She was the third confirmed female Pharaoh in 3,000 years. She was the eldest of two daughters, born to King Thutmose 1 by his Queen, Ahmes. Hatshepsut was 12 when her father died and she became the first women to attain the power of Pharaoh; Cleopatra was the next, some 14 centuries later! Hatshepsut was born in 1508 BC and she was the longest reigning female Pharaoh in Egypt!

Hatshepsut ruled very successfully, based on trade and growth, whereas most male Pharaohs had their success based around wars they waged on others. Even though she was the direct heir to the throne, because she was a women and they were not allowed to rule alone, she was forced to marry her younger half brother, Thutmose 11 (son of one of the Pharaoh’s other wives) in order to take power. Under this arrangement she was able to rule Egypt, but his untimely death at a young age, forced her to act as Regent for her stepson (Thutmose 11’s son to another wife), Thutmose 111. Later she took on the full powers of Pharaoh, becoming co-ruler of Egypt around 1473 BC.

Despite these setbacks, Hatshepsut became famous for building the enormous memorial Temple at Deir el-Bahri, which is considered to be one of the architectural wonders of Ancient Egypt. During her reign, she also approved a trade expedition, bringing back to Egypt, great riches including ebony, ivory, gold, leopard skins and incense. She died around 1458 BC, when she was in her mid 40’s and she was buried in the Valley of the Kings.

We almost lost all history of this amazing women, when Thutmose 111, had almost all images & statues of Hatshepsut on temples and monuments eradicated. Many believe this was done as an attempt to try and erase her example of a powerful female ruler. As a result scholars knew little about her existence until 1822, when they decoded hieroglyphs on the walls of Dier el-Bahri.

I found it inspiring to think that against great odds, Hatshepsut was able to become a great ruler, who characterised all the best female qualities. Success came for her country, not as a result of waging war, but on finding another way to grow and prosper. This is exactly what we need today, women like Hatshepsut who can step up and lead the great nations of the world, using intelligence, commitment, integrity and finding other ways to measure our success and prosperity, that does not involve waging war with anybody.

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