Margaret Thatcher has been named as the most influential woman of the last 70 years by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
The former and first female Prime Minister topped the programme’s annual Power List, which celebrates seven women who have made the biggest impact on women’s lives over the past seven decades.
Thatcher made history when she became the first female British Prime Minister in 1979. She was the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century, holding three terms in office. She became known for her uncompromising politics and leadership style, being dubbed the “Iron Lady.”
In a Power List first, the fictional character Bridget Jones makes the final seven, alongside singer Beyoncé and feminist academic Germaine Greer.
This year’s judging panel was once again chaired by journalist and presenter of BBC 5Live Daily, Emma Barnett, alongside Karren Brady, business leader and life peer; Ayesha Kazarika, former Labour adviser and commentator; Abi Morgan, award-winning screenwriter (The Iron Lady and Suffragette); Jill Burridge, former editor of Woman’s Hour; and Julia Hobsbawm, founder, Editorial Intelligence.
Speaking about their decision to award to top place to Thatcher, Barnett said, “Love or loathe her, it is hard to think of another woman who has had more of an impact on British women that Baroness Margaret Thatcher within the last seven decades.”
“Anyone born in the 80s and thereafter grew up thinking it was normal for a woman to run the country; anyone over the age of 18 while she was in charge was shaped by her leadership style and uncompromising policies.”
“In fact a whole generation of women’s feminism was formed in direct retaliation to her.”
Julia Hobsbawm added, “She represents a fundamental shift in thinking – the idea that men call the shots all the time changed overnight with her.”
The 2016 Woman’s Hour Power List
The first female British Prime Minister serving three terms from 1979 to 1990.
Set up Brook Advisory Centres in 1964 offering contraceptive advice to unmarried women
A Labour MP for Blackburn from 1945 to 1979, Castle brought in the Equal Pay Act in 1970.
An Australian writer who is recognised as one of the major voices of the feminist movement. She published The Female Eunuch in 1970.
Desai was a prominent leader of the strikers in the Grunwick dispute in London in 1976, campaigning against low pay and poor conditions for women workers.
Fictional character Jones is the lead in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Beyoncé is an American singer-songwriter
The list, now in it’s third year, is also celebrating Woman’s Hour 70th anniversary.
Alice Feinstein, Woman’s Hour Editor, said, “Each year the Woman’s Hour Power List aims to highlight, celebrate and create a discussion around the achievements of women who are pioneering and affecting change for women and in British society at large.”
“In our anniversary year it felt appropriate to take stock and recognise the women who over the past 70 years have had the biggest impact.”
“Of course it’s been an impossible task for our judges to compile a final list of seven but I’m pleased that this feels like an appropriately wide-ranging and impressive line-up of those who historically and today are having an impact in terms of the choices available to women in the UK in 2016.”