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Thatcher changed history - Gillard

09 April 2013, 15:05

Sydney - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday said Margaret Thatcher "changed history for women" by opening the door to females taking high-powered leadership roles.

While a polarising figure, the "Iron Lady" shattered the political glass ceiling by becoming Britain's only woman premier, something Gillard, as Australia's first and only female leader, can relate to.

"Margaret Thatcher was a woman who changed history for women," said Labour leader Gillard in tribute to the 87-year-old conservative who died on Monday.

"Obviously, Margaret Thatcher and I did not share a political outlook on the world.

"But as a woman, I am admiring of her achievements becoming the first woman to lead the United Kingdom, the first female prime minister there.

"Many around the world will be reflecting upon her life and times today, as is appropriate with the loss of such a significant figure," said added.

"For women around the world, they will be reflecting on the loss of a woman who showed a new way forward for women and a way into leadership."

Emotional, intellectual

Gillard has been outspoken in promoting women in leadership roles and last year sparked global headlines when she called Australia's opposition leader a misogynist in a speech which went viral and won international praise.

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who was leader at the same time as Thatcher, also praised her, highlighting her intellect.

"In some ways she was a mixture because she had emotional reactions but she also had a very powerful intellect," he told ABC radio.

"In discussions with her it was always important that you got on to the intellectual side ... and once you did, you found a powerful, rational argument for a course of action."

Fraser first encountered Thatcher in 1969, when the two were education ministers for their countries.

"I didn't predict then that she would become one of Britain's greatest prime ministers," he said.

"I think she did enormous good for the British economy."



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