In some communities women are recognized as social, economic and political leaders. This phenomenon is known as matriarchy, a model of minority society today that only exists in some isolated communities. In this sense, the Inuts in some territories of North America, the Ibo in Nigeria, the Kung in the Kalahari Desert and the Nagovisi in the island of Bouganville can be mentioned.
Some Neolithic sculptures, called Venus, suggest that thousands of years ago there were communities where women played a preponderant role. These sculptures are interpreted by anthropologists in two ways: the cult of female fertility and the leadership role of women.
The anthropological foundation of matriarchy in prehistory is based on matrilineal descent, which means that all family and social relationships had the mother as a reference. It is estimated that between the Paleolithic and Neolithic period this social model was the majority. It should be noted that the human being in prehistory was unaware of the mechanisms of pregnancy and, therefore, who presented conclusive evidence on fertility was exclusively the woman .
During the long period of matriarchy all phenomena of nature are attributed to some deity
In this context, the woman is the only one who gives life and in this sense her figure is revered by society as a whole.
Consequently, the woman leads a community and it is she who decides where to live and in what way.
The matriarchy in the Basque Country
While it is unquestionable that most social models are of the patriarchal type, it is also true that in some communities women rule unofficially. In the Basque Country, women have special moral authority in society as a whole.
Traditional Basque society and culture were based on the rural village, where women were the fundamental pillars from which to organize household chores and daily life in general. The man had a minor role which he devoted himself mainly to the care of cattle and pastures. The housewife (etxehoandre) was not the only one in charge, as other women also had a special role in daily life, such as midwives, nurses and women responsible for the care of the church.
All these female figures from the rural Basque world enjoyed great social prestige and therefore some anthropologists (eg Julio Caro Baroja) spoke about the Basque matriarchy.