10 Ways Margaret Thatcher Made the World a Better Place for Women

The former British Prime Minister was an epic trailblazer, whether you loved her or you didn't

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at 87 following a stroke. Of course, her legacy will live on forever. And part of that legacy is the many ways in which she made the world better for women all over the world. Here are 10 of the reasons for which we should all honor her life and mourn her loss.

She was the first.
Any woman who becomes the first to do anything -- from heading up a country to being the first in her family to go to college -- paves the way for so many more to come. As the first -- and only! -- woman to serve in the role of British prime minister, she made a statement that such a feat is possible for women everywhere.

She showed that women don't have to be liked to be respected.
Some people loved Thatcher, and some despised her and her politics. But even her adversaries seemed to have to acknowledge with envy her indefatigability, her unwillingness to consider failure as an option, and the absoluteness of her decision making. While the Lean In debate rages on, Thatcher's style of getting ahead in the workplace is still incredibly relevant fodder for intense conversation.

She exceeded even her own expectations.
Thatcher got the job merely a few years after announcing in a TV interview, "I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime," according to CNN. How's that for an inspiring example of hard work in the face of seemingly unbeatable odds?

She started small and thought big.
Born in 1925 to grocer parents, she came from modest beginnings -- and rocketed out of her circumstances. Yes, she was British, but that sure sounds like a young woman's American dream, doesn't it?

She studied science.
We knew her as the British prime minister, but did you know she was also a chemist? She studied chemistry at Oxford at a time when that would have been barely imaginable for women -- given how relatively few women still populate scientific fields today. Her example can inspire women lo these many decades later to recognize their scientific aptitudes and pursue such fields.

She was everywhere.
Consider American kids growing up in today's world, a world in which an African American president gets out of Air Force One and waves to the tune of "Hail to the Chief." Such visuals -- and such an understanding of the world order -- are commonplace for the newest generation in America. Thatcher's role in England, and around the world, was the equivalent example for young women of her time in office. Turn on the radio, open the newspaper, or flip on the TV, and you'd see a woman running the show. Her omnipresence alone radically changed thinking for a new generation and beyond.

She was deeply courageous.
The terrorist group IRA bombed Thatcher's hotel in 1984, and five people were killed in the tragedy. The IRA vowed to try again to assassinate Thatcher. But she hardly let fear stop her from continuing on her path. In 1987, she was reelected.

She was tough.
Women can have success through a variety of approaches, of course, from understanding and empathy to rigidity and uncompromising intensity. Thatcher's approach was the latter; she was well known for being tough and relentless both when it came to political matters or personal ones, famously earning her the nickname, the Iron Lady.

She did all of this with a family, too.
Thatcher loved children and had two of her own (one of which would later encounter major legal troubles). She described her husband, Denis, as "marvelous" and "the golden thread" running through her life, according to the Huffington Post. She was a living example of a woman at the top of her game at work with a full house at home to boot. No, not everyone shares these dual goals, but those who do can look to Thatcher as inspiration for this too.

She did things absolutely her own way.
There are people who will say a story like this should never be written, because Thatcher was not widely seen as a traditional feminist hero. In fact, she's said to have said a few choice words against the organized movement -- like “I hate feminism. It is poison,”according to the Washington Post. And in itself that fierce sense of individualism that so defined her -- that characteristic so much more often associated with men -- is one of Thatcher's great examples to women of the world. It's proof that women can succeed, whether or not they choose to align themselves with a movement intended to help the entire group do just that. For her, it wasn't about disparaging men, or championing women, or vocally advocating for equality. It was about simply being equal by example.

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer, iVillage's Chief Lifestyle Blogger, and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

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