On what would have been Margaret Thatcher’s 92nd birthday, there are many reasons why we continue to celebrate the life of such an influential female leader. Here are the top five reasons why Margaret Thatcher is still an inspiration for women today:
1. She didn’t use her sex to influence her career.
In one of her most famous quotes, Thatcher comments on being a female in politics: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Margaret Thatcher did not become the political icon she is today because she ‘played the gender card’ every chance she could. In fact, by focusing on her policies she was able to become a successful Prime Minister of Britain–who also happened to be the first female in that role. In today’s political world, Hillary Clinton blamed her loss on “rampant misogyny”. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg recently agreed. Unlike Clinton, Thatcher did not use her sex as a political talking point.
2. She was principled.
Thatcher believed in a strong Britain and a free economy. She actively dismantled socialism during her rule and left the country with a more privatized market economy. “It was one of the central means of reversing the corrosive and corrupting effects of socialism,” she explained in her memoirs. Thatcher is known to have been influenced by many of the greatest economic philosophers, such as Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith, and Milton Friedman. Her economic policies have made a lasting impact around the world, inspiring a new school of economic thought: Thatcherism.
3. She challenged the status quo.
She didn’t care about being popular, instead she was a smart politician. She cared more about the success of her country than how well she was liked and for this, she was highly controversial. In another well known quote, she doesn’t hide her feelings on the matter: “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” Thatcher was not about the political games that we see many of our politicians play today. Partisanship has spread like a disease through Washington, D.C., and it seems that what side of the aisle you stand on has become more important than what the voters want. Thatcher knew what it took to get her economy back on track, despite her policies being far from the status quo, earning her name, the “Iron Lady.”
4. She had to work for her success.
Growing up as the daughter of a grocery store owner, she learned the value of hard work from a young age. Before entering politics, Thatcher also worked as a research chemist and barrister. She then became a Member of Parliament, was appointed to serve as Secretary of Education and Science, and then was elected to be Leader of the Opposition Party before ultimately becoming Prime Minister. Unlike many of today’s political elites, she understood what it was like to have to work hard to succeed. During her professional journey, she was also continuing her job as a mother and as a wife. She has been quoted as saying, “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” Thatcher proved that women can have a successful career and families, something that is admirable to say the least.
5. She was a modern feminist.
In 2013, IWF named Margaret Thatcher a modern feminist, and by all definitions she continues to fit the name. Although she may not have called herself a feminist (after all she did say, “I owe nothing to women’s lib”), she certainly advanced women by proving that there’s nothing we can’t do. In that way, she is a modern feminist. Sadly, left-leaning feminism today is not commonly associated with support for Thatcher’s ideas, like free markets and personal responsibility, but Margaret Thatcher is proof that there is not one cookie-cutter ideology that all feminists believe. She should inspire the pro-women movement to be more inclusive of right-leaning women, and to embrace the diversity of ideas. We salute her for the trail she blazed! Happy Birthday, Margaret Thatcher!