Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller, born on December 12, 1945, was elected the first female prime minister in 2006. Later, after being the leader of opposition during 2007-2012, she was re-elected and became the seventh prime minister of Jamaica in January 2012. Serving as Prime Minister, she has retained the positions of Minister of Defense, Sports, Information, and Development.
Early Life and Beginnings of a Political Career
Portia Simpson came from humble beginnings. As she often mentions, her days growing up in Wood Hall, a rural Jamaican community emphasizes the fact that anyone can achieve their dreams, despite how grand and how minuscule their background. Portia Simpson became involved in politics since she became a member of the People’s National Party(PNP) and became a member of the city council of Kingston in 1974.
She was elected to the parliament of Jamaica in 1976. Since 1989, Simpson-Miller served as Minister of Labor Welfare and Sports. In the following years, she was the Minister of Labor and Welfare, Minister of Labor, Social Security and Sports, Minister of Tourism and Sports, and Minister of Local Government and Sport.
Image Credit: http://www.embassyofjamaica.org
The First Female Prime Minister of Jamaica
In 2002, the leader of the People’s National Party, and then Prime Minister of Jamaica, Percival James Patterson announced that he would retire before the next elections. In 2006, Simpson-Miller became the president of the People’s National Party, after being its vice-president since 1976. In the same year, she replaced the outgoing Prime Minister, becoming the first female head of the government of the country.
However, in 2007, after a financial scandal and a slowness in providing disaster aid after Hurricane Dean, the party met a decrease in its popularity and lost the elections held the same year.
Image Credit: http://caribbeancelebs.com
After People’s National Party lost the elections in 2007, the Jamaican Labor Party came to power, led by Bruce Golding. In 2011, Golding resigned and the newly established Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, dissolved the Parliament and called for new elections that were held in December 2011. Simpson-Miller won the elections, becoming the seventh Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Notably, a couple of days before the elections, she expressed her support for a revision of the buggery laws during television debates held several days before the elections. In 2012, Simpson-Miller was ranked among “Time” magazine’s “100 most influential persons in the world”.
Portia Simpson openly endorses republicanism. She considers that the monarchy must be replaced by an elected head of state. She assured several times that Jamaica will be transformed into a republic as a part of the 50th anniversary of independence of the island. To date however, republicanism has yet to be achieved.
Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org
Portia Simpson-Miller is married to Errald Miller. She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network, which consists of female presidents and prime ministers. In addition, in 2006 she received Jamaican “Order of the Nation” which gave her the title “The most honorable”.
The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, leader of the PNP, prime minster of Jamaica demonstrates the result of perseverance, hard work and dedication. Today, she is a beacon of hope for Jamaican women and women around the word.
By Norvan Martin