World Coins

This Day in History: March 17

Golda Meir became Israel’s first and so far only female leader on March 17, 1969. She is seen here with President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

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Dozens of nations have selected or appointed women as their leaders, from Liberia to India and the United Kingdom, to name a few.

The list also includes Israel’s Golda Meir, who became her nation’s first (and so far only) female prime minister on March 17, 1969, after serving as Israel’s minister of labour and foreign minister. 

Meir was the fourth prime minister of Israel and served until June 3, 1974. 

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Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir “the best man in the government.” Meir was often portrayed as the “strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people.”

Before Margaret Thatcher earned the cognomen “Iron Lady,” the term was being used to describe Meir, who steered her nation during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

Meir died in 1978 of lymphoma. She was honored in 1995 on a 10-new-sheqel coin and was featured on a bank note of the same denomination issued from 1985 to 1992. 

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