Born Golda Mabovitz in Kiev, Russia (now in Ukraine), she emigrated with her family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1906. There, she graduated from teachers' college and taught in the public schools. She joined the Poalei Zion (Labor Zionist Organization) in 1915 and emigrated to Palestine with her husband, Morris Myerson, in 1921. He died in 1951. She adopted the Hebrew name Meir ("to burn brightly") in 1956.
She moved to Tel Aviv in 1924 where she was employed in a variety of posts in the trade union movement and civil service before being elected to the Knesset in 1949. She served as Minister of Labor (1949-1956) and Foreign Minister (1956-1966) in successive governments.
Upon becoming Prime Minister following the death of Levi Eshkol, her government was clouded by internal squabbles among the governing coalition, and serious questions over strategic misjudgments and general lack of leadership that resulted in the unanticipated Yom Kippur War. Golda Meir resigned leadership, to be succeeded by Yitzhak Rabin.
Golda Meir died in Jerusalem and was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.