Key Female Figures

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher is one of the most important women in British history. She became the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979 and remained in office until 1990. To this day she is the only woman to have been either Prime Minister or leader of the Conservative party. Thatcher’s policies during her time in office have often divided opinion between liberals and non liberals. With the country in economic decline, she went about deregulating the financial sector and selling off state owned companies to encourage enterprise and economic growth. Privatisation was a financial success for those newly privatised firms, and typified Thatcher’s capitalist politics. She gained the nickname the ‘Iron Lady’ for her tough stance on the Soviet Union and her decision to declare war on Argentina over the Falkland Islands in 1982. The success of the war in the Falklands helped Thatcher in the opinion polls and was a factor in her re-election the next year.

Thatcher’s Legacy

Her opposition to the power of trade unions made her unpopular with the working class, and the events of the miners’ strike solidified her unpopularity amongst certain sections of society. She closed several unprofitable mines which led to massive job losses in communities which relied on the mines for their livelihoods. She also introduced the highly unpopular poll tax in 1989. Whilst Thatcher still divides opinion because of her policies, her position as an important figure in womens’ history cannot be ignored. Although she may have had to take on a typically male approach to compete in the very masculine world of politics, she remains an example of the progress that women have made in the 20th century.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Although she did not beat Barack Obama to the Democratic nomination for presidency, Hillary Clinton still had a significant effect on politics and the perception of women within the United States. Her campaign made the country consider seriously whether they would vote for a woman to run the country and she exposed prejudice still present within society and the media. Clinton had previously been First Lady to President Bill Clinton, who is often best remembered for his high profile affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton is a great example of the modern working mother who has had a successful career of her own, and does not rely on her husband for financial support. Clinton’s relationship with her husband and her campaign for presidency have highlighted how women are often judged using stereotypes, and are viewed in terms of their relationship with men. questions over her emotional state were brought up during her campaign, questions that would not have been asked of a man in the same position.

Hillary Clinton is an important and powerful female figure in the todays world and will most likely run for election again in 2012, meaning potentially the most powerful person in the world could be a woman. The popularity and success of Clinton’s campaign demonstrated how much progress women have made, whilst at the same time highlighting the prejudices and negative stereotypes that are still present in modern society.

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