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Meryl Streep appears in a scene from the 2011 film The Iron Lady. / Margaret Thatcher arrives at her office at No. 10 Downing Street in London in 1979. - Provided courtesy of The Weinstein Company / British Prime Ministers Office Press

Margaret Thatcher was a 'pioneer,' Meryl Streep says - see full statement

04/08/2013 by Corinne Heller

Meryl Streep has issued a statement about the recent passing of former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, saying the iconic leader she had played in "The Iron Lady" was a "pioneer" and a "figure of awe for her personal strength and grit."

Streep, 63, won her third Oscar for her portrayal of the former UK prime minister in the 2011 film (check out the actress' Q&A with reporters backstage at the Oscars). Thatcher, who was given the nickname "The Iron Lady" by a Soviet newspaper during the Cold War, died at age 87 on Monday, April 8 after a stroke. The Conservative leader was the UK's first female prime minister and held that post between 1979 and 1990.

Thatcher maintained a tough stance against communism and later famously declared that the UK "can do business" with Mikhail Gorbachev, who became the leader of the Soviet Union, which fell in 1991. She led her Conservative party in its battle against the UK's trade unions and helped secure the 1981 release of 52 Americans held hostage for more than a year by Islamic militants in Iran.

Check out Streep's full statement about Thatcher below.

    "Margaret Thatcher was a pioneer, willingly or unwillingly, for the role of women in politics. It is hard to imagine a part of our current history that has not been affected by measures she put forward in the UK at the end of the 20th century."

    "Her hard-nosed fiscal measures took a toll on the poor and her hands-off approach to financial regulation led to great wealth for others. There is an argument that her steadfast, almost emotional loyalty to the pound sterling has helped the UK weather the storms of European monetary uncertainty."

    "But to me she was a figure of awe for her personal strength and grit. To have come up, legitimately, through the ranks of the British political system, class bound and gender phobic as it was, in the time that she did and the way that she did, was a formidable achievement. To have won it, not because she inherited position as the daughter of a great man, or the widow of an important man, but by dint of her own striving."

    "To have withstood the special hatred and ridicule, unprecedented in my opinion, leveled in our time at a public figure who was not a mass murderer; and to have managed to keep her convictions attached to fervent ideals and ideas -- wrongheaded or misguided as we might see them now -- without corruption -- I see that as evidence of some kind of greatness, worthy for the argument of history to settle."

    "To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable."

    "I was honored to try to imagine her late life journey, after power; but I have only a glancing understanding of what her many struggles were, and how she managed to sail through to the other side. I wish to convey my respectful condolences to her family and many friends."

WATCH the trailer for the 2011 movie "The Iron Lady."

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