By George Nash
One of the most controversial politicians in the history of British politics is the also the only woman to have stepped through the door of Number 10 Downing Street as the country’s prime minister.
Baroness Margaret Thatcher died Monday at the Ritz Hotel in London after suffering from a stroke at the age of 82. She always claimed that she did not believe in feminism, but her own words signal a potential legacy for her in this arena:
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
Thatcher’s funeral is set for Wednesday, and is expected to cost the taxpayer £10 million (around $15.4 million). Queen Elizabeth will be attending along with Prince Charles, George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush, Tony Blair and many other leading political figures of the world.
But why all the fuss? After all, she destroyed the British coal and mining industry, doubled inflation and retook the Falklands with military force. For everything potentially disagreeable about her, she changed the face of U.K. politics in such a way that her legacy still the country today, and her patriotism has gathered respect from all corners of the world.
To some extent, feminists should look to Thatcher as both a disappointment and an inspiration. As the daughter of a shopkeeper, she only appointed three women to her cabinet over the three terms that she held the premiership. This, to some people, is a wasted opportunity to display the abilities of women in politics.
Women continue to be substantially under-represented in the House of Commons, as the 2010 election saw 139 women (21 percent) elected into Britain’s lower house. Not that the same doesn’t hold true in the United States. As of January 2013, the number of women senators in Congress increased to 20 — 16 Democrats and four Republicans.
At a time when women are still discriminated in the work place, a role model such as Thatcher could have an outstanding impact upon the working world. Four years after President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, women are still earning less than men, according to data gathered from the U.S Census Bureau.
One thing is certain — Thatcher was a highly respected but highly detested woman, and her legacy will live on for many years to come. Her tenure as the leader of one of the world’s most influential nations marks a high point in a world that continues to field an unequal playing field for women.
George Nash is a Politically Inclined guest blogger from Hereford in the UK. He is currently studying Politics, Economics, Modern History and Biology Hereford Sixth Form College. He intends to go to university, and then enter politics.