Is there a term that refers to political power held by women? A term that possibly ends with -cracy:

word-forming element forming nouns meaning "rule or government by. " The connective -o- has come to be viewed as part of it. Productive in English from c. 1800.

I can't find any reference looking in Google.

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    Matriarchy? Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 18:59
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    I hadn't realised that these ladies were rulers or governors. They are still accountable in a democracy. Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 19:12
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    Lagarde's power is different from Merkel's but it still is an example of a position typically taken by men which is now in the hands of a woman. @ab2 I think you got the point. Thanks
    – user 66974
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 21:02
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    See Monstrous Regimen of Women. John Knox's phrase 1558. He didn't like Mary of Guise, regent for Mary of Scots nor Mary (Bloody Mary) of England. But, then, Elizabeth I succeeded Mary and was not happy with Knox.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 21:18
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    @ab2 it was just a fatuous quip. I meant no harm or usefulness. Oh - the first of course.
    – immutabl
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


gynocracy (alt spelling gynecocracy) fits what the OP is asking. From the Oxford English Dictionary

Women as the ruling class

Alt. gynecocracy, OED

Government by a woman or women; female rule or mastery; depreciatingly, petticoat government.

Quotation from the OED:

1864 Macmillan's Mag. July 219 From a gynocracy..heaven save us and all Christian communities!

The oldest form is gynarchy, "government by women or a woman". See Etomonline:

gynarchy: government by women or a woman," 1570s, from Greek gyne "woman, wife," from PIE *gwen- "woman" (see queen) + -arkhe "rule" (see archon). Synonymous gynaecocracy (from Greek gynaikokratia) and gyneocracy are attested from 1610s; gynocracy is from 1728.

matriarchy is close, but not quite what the OP is asking for. From the OED

A form of social organization in which the mother or oldest female is the head of the family, and descent and relationship are reckoned through the female line; government or rule by a woman or women. Also (in Cultural Anthropol.): a culture or community in which such a system prevails; a family, society, organization, etc., dominated by a woman or women.

The difference appears to be that in a matriarchy, the females of the family line hold power in the family and by extension a prominent place in the society, whereas in a gynocracy women hold power as individuals, not as family elders who are women.

  • This is for rulers, not heads of mixed-gender governments. Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 19:13
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    @Edwin Ashworth Wait 20 years. :) But I'll poke around further.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 19:25
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    Lagarde is different from Merkel. She doesn't rule nor govern anything. She is just sitting there doing nothing except for travelling a lot and making some speeches, but she doesn't have any power to make any decision. Obama and his secretaries make a decision. The OP's question is as unclear as it gets.
    – user140086
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 20:19
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    @Rathony - my question is about women with political power, whatever their position! The above answer shows that my question is as clear as it gets! Thank you!!
    – user 66974
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 21:09
  • If the successor to Merkel, May, et al is not guaranteed to be a woman, is the government still a gynocracy?
    – user662852
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 21:50

Taking your question literally, the word is governess, which derives from Old French, and previously referred to a female ruler:

(Especially in former times) a woman employed to teach children in a private household.

Middle English (originally governeress, denoting a female ruler): from Old French governeresse, feminine of governeour 'governor', from Latin gubernator, from gubernare (see govern).

From: Oxford Dictionaries


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