Funeral services were held for former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher this morning in London. Thatcher was the UK’s first and only female Prime Minister and became popularly known as the “Iron Lady,” a commentary on her unyielding leadership and political style. Her polarizing political platform, which included deregulation of the financial sector, flexible labor markets, the privatization of state-owned companies and the reducing the power of unions, caused her to be viewed as a controversial political figure.
The journey from Thatcher’s humble beginnings as the daughter of a shopkeeper with no wealth or family connection to the political world, to 10 Downing Street when she was elected in the 1979 general election, is an inspiring tale of sheer determination, brains and hard work. She attended Oxford University, a breeding ground for powerful British leaders and assiduously worked her way up the Conservative Party chain until she became the Tory’s leader in 1975.
Thatcher vehemently denounced any notion of herself as a feminist and reportedly told an aide that feminism was “poison.” She didn’t believe in social movements and once said that “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.”
Though she staunchly rejected any association with feminism, it is is undeniable that Thatcher played a paramount role in shattering centuries-old barriers for women in positions of power. She demonstrated that women are able to lead with just as much boldness, shrewdness and might as a male leaders.
We want to know what you think? Was Margaret Thatcher a reluctant feminist who simply lived by self-defined rules about what it meant to be a woman? Join the conversation.