Today, at the age of 87, Lady Margaret Thatcher died following a stroke, according to her spokesman. She is survived by her daughter, Carol, and son, Sir Mark. Perhaps her greatest legacy was the genuine conservative convictions with which she governed.
Current British Prime Minister David Cameron told The Telegraph this morning:
“We’ve lost a great prime minister, a great leader, a great Briton. She didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.”
Not only did she modernize the British economy, but she served as a driving force behind the fall of communism in Europe. Her commitment to union reform, privatization, industry deregulation, and budgetary restraint set Britain on a path to economic prosperity when a dark shadow hung over Britain’s economy.
Importantly, she forged a path for women policymakers around the world. Despite her distaste for the feminist movement, she embodied the new feminist paradigm – the strong and capable woman in the workplace as commonplace. Despite resulting criticism, writer Natasha Walter perhaps best summed up Thatcher’s influence over feminism:
“No British woman this century can come close to her achievements in grasping power. Someone of the wrong sex and the wrong class broke through what looked like invincible barriers to reach into the heart of the establishment. Women who complain that Margaret Thatcher was not a feminist because she didn’t help other women or openly acknowledge her debt to feminism have a point, but they are also missing something vital. She normalised female success. She showed that although female power and masculine power may have different languages, different metaphors, different gestures, different traditions, different ways of being glamorous or nasty, they are equally strong, equally valid … No one can ever question whether women are capable of single-minded vigour, of efficient leadership, after Margeret Thatcher. She is the great unsung heroine of British feminism.”
Thatcher certainly was a controversial figure; however, few who change history with such magnitude are devoid of criticism. The world could use a few more Margaret Thatchers presently. Long live her spirit and her commitment to economic freedom and prosperity for all citizens.