Iron Lady

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For other uses, see The Iron Lady.
Margaret Thatcher was given the nickname "Iron Lady" by a Soviet journalist.

Iron Lady is the nickname of British politician and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher.[1] It was invented by Captain Yuri Gavrilov in a 24 January 1976 article in the Soviet newspaper Red Star about Thatcher's "Britain Awake" speech where she expressed her staunch opposition to the Soviet Union and to socialism.[1] The nickname became popular, transforming Thatcher's image, and helping her and her Conservative Party to win three elections[2]

"Iron Lady" has since has been used, along with regional variations, to describe other female heads of government or political figures, even retrospectively.

The term describes a woman who is either stubborn and inflexible or strong.[2] It is an allusion to the "Iron Chancellor" of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck.[2]


Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990[1] was the leader for whom the term was coined. On 19 January 1976, Thatcher, having recently been elected Leader of the Conservative Party, gave a speech entitled "Britain Awake" at Kensington Town Hall in Chelsea, London.[1] It included the claim that 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.[1] On 24 January, the Soviet military newspaper Red Star published a response to Thatcher's speech by military journalist Captain Yuri Gavrilov.[3] Gavrilov supplied the headline "The 'Iron Lady' Sounds the Alarm"[3] to the piece, intending an allusion to Otto von Bismarck, known as the "Iron Chancellor" of imperial Germany.[2][4] According to Gavrilov's article, Thatcher was at the time already known as "The Iron Lady" in Britain, supposedly on account of her "extreme conservatism".[3] Gavrilov's article was noticed by the British Sunday Times newspaper the next weekend and subsequently given wide publicity.[4] The nickname stuck firmly to Thatcher. A 2011 biographical feature film about her is called The Iron Lady.

Political Usage[edit]

Leaders who have earned the unofficial title (some of them post facto) include:


Some female politicians have been given other nicknames that bear a similar connotation to that of an Iron Lady:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Britain Awake". Margaret Thatcher Foundation. Retrieved 2 November 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Revealed: Red Army colonel who dubbed Maggie the Iron Lady ... and changed history" by Will Stewart, Daily Mail, 24 February 2007
  3. ^ a b c Gavrilov, Yuri, "The 'Iron Lady' Sounds the Alarm", Krasnaya zvezda, 1976-01-24, p. 3, translated at The Current Digest of the Soviet Press – Volume 28, Issues 1–13 – Page 17
  4. ^ a b Amazing & Extraordinary Facts – Prime Ministers, David & Charles,
  5. ^,2570067 Gloria Arroyo: Iron Lady of Asia 24 January 2002
  6. ^ U.K. loses its first Iron Lady By Hasan Suroor (The Hindu) 5 May 2002
  7. ^ Butt, Gerald (21 April 1998). "Golda Meir". BBC News. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Biljana Plavsic: Serbian iron lady". BBC News 27 February 2003
  9. ^ "Malawi's iron lady Joyce Banda". Kenya Central Online. 
  10. ^ Aussie Iron Lady will die fighting. The Daily Telegraphy 27 July 2012
  11. ^ Gillard reveals her inner iron lady, and gets her way. The Sydney Morning Herald 20 November 2011
  12. ^ "Manuela Ferreira Leite, Portugal's "Iron Lady"". 23 September 2009. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  13. ^ Ukraine's Iron Lady, Time magazine (30 January 2005)
  14. ^ Ukraine's Iron Lady provokes rift, The Guardian (3 July 2005)
  15. ^ "Iron lady Helen Clark has steel for global challenge". 5 April 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2011. 
  16. ^ "Brazil: 'Iron Lady' Is New Chief Of Staff". The New York Times. 22 June 2005. Retrieved 21 December 2009.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  17. ^ "Liberia's 'Iron Lady' claims win". BBC. 11 November 2005. Retrieved 23 July 2006. 
  18. ^ Lithuania elects first female president ABC News Dalia Grybauskaite: Lithuania’s ‘Iron Lady’. Khaleej Times.
  19. ^ "The Successor of Lukashenko could be the "Iron Lady" of Belarus – Natalia Petkevich". 9 July 2006. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  20. ^ Usborne, David (11 February 2012). "Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner: The iron lady of the Malvinas". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  21. ^ Williams, Ian. "South Korea's 'Iron Lady' Park Geun-hye comes to Washington". NBC News. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Bill Maher On North Korea New Rules 4/12/13. YouTube. 13 April 2013. 
  23. ^ Ryan Lizza (17 March 2008). "The Iron Lady". The New Yorker. 
  24. ^ Riley, Alan (3 December 2009). "The legacy of the Iron Lady of Antitrust". European Voice. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  25. ^ Wan, William (17 August 2014). "Hong Kong's 'Iron Lady' takes up democracy fight with Beijing". Guardian Weekly. 
  26. ^ Rowan, Roy (29 March 1976). "Orchid or Iron Butterfly, Imelda Marcos Is a Prime Mover in Manila". People Magazine. Retrieved 23 July 2006. 
  27. ^ van Egmond, Joost (2 July 2006). "Iron Rita Loses Her Mettle". Time. Retrieved 23 July 2006. 
  28. ^ van de Pol, Jurjen (3 April 2008). "'Iron Rita' Starts New Dutch Political Party After Wilders Film". Retrieved 23 July 2006. 
  29. ^ Federation of American Scientists. NATO-List: USIA – Albright Foreign Media Reaction: "Titanium Lady Shows Her Mettle in Moscow" The conservative Daily Telegraph pointed out (21 February 1997)

External links[edit]