Graduation Year

Fall 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Hilary Appel

Rights Information

© 2012 Ariel Katz


This paper explores the rhetoric and actions of Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, and Indira Gandhi regarding feminism and their gender before they became prime minister. The paper finds that none of the leaders identified as feminists, and did not actively focus on women’s issues or elevate the status of women while in office. Yet, all of these leaders called for women to mobilize and pursue careers, either via their actions or speeches. Thatcher, particularly in the crucial period in which she rose to power, explicitly encouraged women to mobilize as voters and pursue work outside the home in her formal speeches, public statements, letters and interviews. Through their organized activities before they obtained office, Meir and Gandhi worked to mobilize women politically, although their rhetoric did not explicitly encourage women over men to participate politically. The paper explores nuanced ways that each leader associated with her gender and preached for other women to pursue careers. Looking ahead at one case study shows that women now are not necessarily averse to explicitly associating with their gender. Tzipi Livni, the candidate for the Kadima Party in the 2009 Israeli election, used her gender as a campaign tactic. Hopefully this paper helps lay the groundwork for future study on women candidate’s rhetoric and actions regarding feminism before they are elected.