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History made as May takes control in Britain

New residence: British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street in London

We witnessed an epic moment in history earlier this week upon Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister of Britain. She became the 13th prime minister to serve during the 64-year reign of the Queen.

Mrs May is only the second woman to serve in the post. The first, of course, was none other than the indomitable Baroness Margaret Thatcher who was dubbed the “Iron Lady” by virtue of her resolute political will and steely convictions. She served in that capacity for a period of 11 years, and was the longest serving prime minister of the 20th century.

Mrs May’s meteoric rise from home secretary to that of Prime Minister was swift and rather decisive; the abrupt resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron was precipitated by his loss in a national referendum of Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.

What we witnessed in the last few days was indeed the manifestation of good old-fashioned British democracy at its best in which Rule Britannia, via the governing Conservative Party, the hallmark of a well-oiled political machinery, was able to resuscitate itself from a self-induced hairline fracture and shift the political paradigm back on course. The passage of time shall reveal how the new prime minister shall pivot from a relatively unknown — at least overseas — into a quintessential hard-nosed British bulldog, snarling her way through the hallowed halls and lofty chambers of the House of Commons, fighting both friend and foe. The most pertinent issue of the day shall be the imminent withdrawal from the European Union and the format set for the invoking of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Women have proven themselves since time immemorial very capable and astute leaders. The Prophetess Deborah, frequently referred to as the Mother of Israel, was the first woman in the recorded history of mankind to lead a nation of people, and she did so for a period of 40 years. As recorded in Judges, chapters 4 and 5 of the Holy Bible, Deborah, along with her 10,000 troops defeated Jabin, the King of Canaan, in which there was peace in the land for the next 40 years. In modern times, the first elected female head of state was Sirimavo Bandaranaike. She was elected Prime Minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), in 1960 and served for a period of four years. She was reelected on two more occasions and served a total of 15 years as Prime Minister.

Since which, there have been more than 70 women worldwide that have been appointed or selected as prime ministers or presidents.

The second longest-serving prime minister in modern history was Indira Gandhi, who in two terms served over a period of 15 years as prime minister of India. To date, the Republic of India has had three female prime ministers since securing independence from Great Britain in 1947.

The third woman in modern history to serve as leader of a modern nation state was Golda Meir. She was elected the fourth prime minister of Israel in 1969. She led the country during the rescue of hostages at Entebbe Airport, and was instrumental in the miraculous turn around during the Yom Kippur War.

The United States of America has yet to elect a female as head of state. The country’s political fortunes may change in the next five months if Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, wins the presidential election in November this year.

Although Bermuda is a Dependent Territory of the United Kingdom, we reached a milestone in the development of our political history in which we have had three female premiers — Dame Pamela Gordon, Dame Jennifer Smith and Paula Cox.