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Golda Meir

2 December 2016

In 1969, long before any European country had a woman as head of state, Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel. Born on 3 May 1898 in Kyiv, this powerful woman was nicknamed the Iron Lady and was Israel’s fourth Prime Minister.

The life of Golda Meir

Golda Meir grew up in Ukraine. Due to increasing antisemitism, her family decided to emigrate to the US in 1906. Here, Meir attended teacher training, worked as a teacher, and married Morris Meyerson. In 1921, they left together for Mandatory Palestine, where they had two children. Her husband died in 1951 and Golda Meyerson changed her name to Meir. Meir is a Hebrew word meaning ‘to shine brightly’.

Her political career

Golda Meir's grave

Golda Meir’s grave at the Israel’s national cemetery at Mount Herzl. – Jerusalem, Israel

Little by little, Meir worked his way up in politics. She worked for the Histadrut trade union and was one of the 37 Jews who signed the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948. On 17 March 1969, she became Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, succeeding Levi Eshkol, who had died.

After her retirement in 1974, Golda Meir’s health began to deteriorate. She had been suffering from cancer since the 1960s and died of this disease on December 8, 1978.

Women’s liberation

Meir did a lot for women’s emancipation in Israel during her time as Prime Minister. When there were calls to establish a curfew on women to protect them from rape, Meir said firmly: ‘It is the man who attacks the woman. If a curfew will be established, it will be the man who must stay at home’.