This week, millions of young women — especially those dabbling in women’s studies at celebrated American universities — likely will be surprised to learn of Margaret Thatchers’ world-changing influence in the tributes to her passing. Thatcher’s legacy — both as a staunch anti-Communist and as an advocate of free markets, the dignity of the individual, and of limited government — just doesn’t mesh with the women-as-victim feminism that dominates academia and too much of our conversation about women and public policy.
Thatcher’s reasoned advocacy of free-market economics, which helped transform not only Great Britain but also influenced President Ronald Reagan and the course of the global economy, as well as her unwavering leadership in a difficult time, made her one of the most transformational figures of the 20th century. A signal of the profound depth of her achievements is that her gender was never more than an afterthought. But Thatcher was indeed a pioneer who broke down barriers and stereotypes for women.
As the media salivates over a potential Hillary Clinton presidency, Americans will hear endless chatter about shattered glass ceilings and history in the making. Yet as Thatcher well knew, real leaders are those who inspire people to their better natures, regardless of sex or race. Thatcher rightly is celebrated not because she was a woman, but because she championed sound principles and thereby made a lasting stamp on the world. May she rest in peace, and may her legacy inspire new generations — girls and boys alike — in the ages to come.