Margaret Thatcher in pictures
Margaret Thatcher - British Prime Minister
I was brought up at time that was very different to today.
Some younger people, thinking about 'the old days' might think that we've come a long way since that time and regarding technology and our knowledge of the world, that's true.
But I had the advantage of growing up at a time when women were strong and this lady was a perfect example.
Sadly, many women today believe that they do not have the strengths and advantages that we older people were brought up with and which were natural to us.
Who are the role models for young girls today? I'm not sure but of the handful of ditzy names that come to mind, I think that I'm glad that I had strong women as my role models and not the celebrities that girls seem to idolize today.
I have a complete disinterest in politics and have no comments to make about whether her policies were right or wrong but what I do know is that she was a fine role model for a generation of girls who themselves became strong women who did not accept that being female had any disadvantages ... on the contrary.
Margaret Thatcher was at one time the most powerful woman in the world, meeting and influencing world leaders. And yet she strongly retained her image as a wife and mother. She showed a generation of girls that a meaningful job and a family aren't mutually exclusive.
It never occurred to girls and young women of my generation to question their own abilities. It wasn't something we thought about consciously - it was simply a fact that we automatically absorbed.
No compromise in style
Of course, the prime minister was hardly a fashion role model for teenage girls and young women. Largely we scoffed at the somewhat prim look compared to the weird and wonderful fashions we were wearing. But looking back, Margaret Thatcher also taught us, without us realizing it, that a woman in power need not be drab.
When I was very young, politicians were 'old men in grey suits'. This is not a frivolous remark - it was another thing that we subtly learned, that women in power could still be feminine and that we didn't have to emulate men.
Origins don't matter
This remarkable book is a collection of reminiscences from people who worked with The Iron Lady, as she became known due to her particularly strong style of leadership.The author herself was a minister in Thatcher's cabinet. Read what it was like to work with Britain's first woman prime minister. This is a once in a lifetime experience.
She didn't come from a privileged background. Her father was a greengrocer called Alf Roberts and her early life was spent living in the apartment above the small grocery store. She was a bright girl and achieved a scholarship to a grammar school. Although she went on to study chemistry at university she also excelled at school at playing the piano and she enjoyed swimming and sports.
This was another valuable lesson to young girls of my generation - where you are born and your early circumstances doesn't mean that in the future you can't mix with powerful politicians and famous entertainers. The photograph above shows her with Ronald Reagan and Bob Hope.
When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands - which are under British control - Mrs. Thatcher did not hesitate. She demonstrated to young women that she was a lady with - excuse me - balls. Our impression was that leading a country under normal circumstances is tricky enough but to lead a retaliatory war isn't something that's exclusively in the male domain.
Rights and wrongs of war aside, she developed a sense of British pride at the time and a year after the events, she was re-elected to a second term in office.
Wife and mother
Husband Denis was often at Margaret's side during her visits overseas. This was yet another lesson we learned - that it was perfectly possible for a husband to play a supporting role in his wife's career, no matter where that career might take her.
I remember that during the same year as the Falklands War, her son Mark had a budding motorsport career and became lost in the Sahara Desert whilst competing in a rally. My dad, a rally driver and a Sahara expert, was interviewed on BBC radio about it and the interviewer asked if he would go to lead the search for Mark. My dad said he would and when I asked him 'can I go too?' he said I could.
I was somewhat irritated when Mark was found before we could set off! However, during the time that her son's whereabouts were unknown she was seen to cry in public - the only time. She was one of the most powerful women in the world but being a mother came first.
The Iron Lady
A Russian journalist was responsible for the name that will be forever associated with Margaret Thatcher - The Iron Lady.
In 1984, the Conservative party, of which Mrs Thatcher was the leader, was holding its annual conference in the seaside town of Brighton. In the early hours, when all the guests were in bed, a one hundred pound bomb, placed by the IRA, almost tore apart the hotel. Five people were killed and many more injured. Many of the injured were members of the government. The Thatchers were uninjured but had a narrow escape.
Girls and young women learned another lesson from Mrs Thatcher as she steadfastly insisted that the conference take place so that she could announce to the world that terrorist attempts to destroy democracy would fail.
She passed away on April 8th, 2013 at the age of eighty seven.
Since Margaret Thatcher died in 2013, booksellers reported a huge upsurge in the popularity of this lady. It's many years since she was the prime minister in England and there are many people who have grown up knowing little, if anything, about her. Read more and see why she was a role model for many girls and young women during her ministerial years and about the wife and mother hidden under the Iron Lady exterior..
Earlier daysClick thumbnail to view full-size
Margaret Thatcher in AmericaClick thumbnail to view full-size
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