The BBC Radio 4 programme marked its 70th anniversary by releasing a list of women achievers who had an impact, good or bad, over the past seven decades. The list was topped by UK’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

The panel, made up of seven women and chaired by journalist, Emma Barnett, was completely split on naming Thatcher the winner. The panel includes the likes of businesswoman Karren Brady, screenwriter Abi Morgan, former Woman’s Hour editor Jill Burridge, and Julia Hobsbawm, the founder of Editorial Intelligence.

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Barnett, who supported the stance of Thatcher topping the list, said, “she redefined power”.“Thatcher was one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century, regardless of gender,” she said. “These are all things you can’t deny. She shaped how women viewed what it was to be a woman in power, from the way people articulated themselves to the way people dressed.” “She shattered the glass ceiling into tiny splinters and just by having a woman in power, little girls knew they could do it – even if it’s not the power you would have wanted,” reported The Guardian.

margaret thatcher
Margaret Thatcher tops Woman’s Hour Power List, Picture credits: Joeybarton.com

A very controversial Prime Minister, Thatcher was a grocer’s daughter. She worked her way to the top with mostly no help from anyone. Thatcher’s right wing party drew quite a lot of flak from the public and this mostly led to women coming out to fight her in the opposition.

Barnett said, “Thatcher spawned a whole other generation of feminists in complete opposition to her and so in some ways, her impact was to provoke huge change from the left and beyond.”

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Hazarika said, “I think she had a massively negative impact on society and on women but she was important because she showed that just because you [have] a woman in Downing Street does not mean you have a feminist prime minister or a feminist government.”

The list also features the fictional character, Bridget Jones. Helen Fielding’s fictional character Jones caused a lot of disagreement between the judges. Barnett said, “Bridget is Marmite on this list, and believe me, it was not an easy discussion – the judges were completely split.” “It’s very easy to pack a list like this with people you should, and people you ought, to have there, but I think we forget that Bridget Jones is our Sex and the City. She’s our flawed heroine, that character which enabled women who didn’t have children, didn’t have a perfect life, to laugh at themselves and feel unashamed of who they are.”

bridget jones
Fictional Character Bridget Jones featured in Woman’s Hour Power List
Picture Credits: Bustle.com

The other women on the list are Jayaben Desai, who was the 1976 Grunwich strike leader. Followed by Thatcher is Helen Brooks, who changed the lives of young and single women by setting up contraceptive services for women in the UK. Beyonce Knowles features in the list too.

beyonce knowles
Beyonce Knowles
Picture Credits: Radio.com