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    Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

    Iron Lady Thatcher Voted Most Influential Woman of Last 200 Years

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    The British people consider Margaret Thatcher to be the most influential woman of the past 200 years, a new poll has revealed, taking her place alongside Marie Curie, Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales.

    Thatcher was the UK's first female Prime Minister and was dubbed the 'Iron Lady', by Yury Gavrilov, a young soldier working for the Red Army's Red Star newspaper in 1976, days after Thatcher delivered her 'Britain Awake' speech in which she derided the — then — Labour government for cutting back on arms, while the Soviet Union was investing heavily.

    "The Russians are bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has seen," she said.

    Gavrilov told the Daily Mail in 2007: "At the time it seemed that everyone liked the label. Her opponents thought it reflected her stubbornness and inflexibility. But her supporters took it as a sign of strength."

    Margaret Thatcher speaking at Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations (MGIMO)
    © Sputnik/ Vladimir Vyatkin
    Margaret Thatcher speaking at Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations (MGIMO)

    She was one of the first western leaders to respond warmly to friendly advances from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

    "We're not in a Cold War now", but rather in a "new relationship much wider than the Cold War ever was," she said after a summit with Gorbachev in 1988.

    After Gorbachev and Thatcher first met in London in 1984, she declared: "I like Mr Gorbachev, we can do business together."

    Women Shaping Society

    The poll — conducted to mark the 200 anniversary of the Scottish Widows pensions and investment firm based in Edinburgh — joined forces with historian and author Suzannah Lipscomb to identify the women viewed by the British public as those who have shaped society throughout the past two centuries. 

    Former US President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as they pose for photographers on the patio outside the Oval Office, Washington,DC.
    © AFP 2017/ Mike SARGENT
    Former US President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as they pose for photographers on the patio outside the Oval Office, Washington,DC.

    Others on the list included Emmeline Pankhurst, who led the British suffragette movement to win women the right to vote in national elections; Mother Teresa, the famous missionary and Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II walks past a pop-art style painting of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
    © AFP 2017/
    Britain's Queen Elizabeth II walks past a pop-art style painting of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

    Britain's Queen Victoria, US civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks and TV star Oprah Winfrey also made the list.

    "The top 10 are an impressive list of women — each of them was or has been responsible for or overseen real change, but in addition nearly every one of them has some symbolic importance beyond their own person," Lipscomb said.

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    political influence, strength, influence, poll, popularity, women, history, Cold War, Margaret Thatcher, World, Europe, United Kingdom, Scotland
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