First Female Prime Minister: Portia Simpson Miller rewrote history

Portia Simpson Miller

In 1974, at age 29, a young woman from Wood Hall, St Catherine, made her way on to the political stage and introduced herself as Portia Lucretia Simpson, councilor in the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation.   

After serving for two years at the local level, Simpson was promoted in 1976 to the House of Representative as Member of Parliament for South West St Andrew. Fast forward to 2006, and the politician who by then had become Mrs Simpson Miller was President of the People’s National Party and the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica.

As a servant of the people, Simpson Miller stole the hearts of many Jamaicans.

“I come to the Office of the Prime Minister with a profound sense of my obligations to the people. My role as Prime Minister of Jamaica will be to use this high office to facilitate change,” Simpson Miller shared in her inauguration address.

The young girl who attended Marlie Hill Primary School never had political ambitions and could never have imagined that she would have forever changed the history of her country.  With courage, persistence and commitment, however, the charismatic Simpson Miller broke down many social and political barriers to lead Jamaica from March 2006 to September 2007.

The queen of politics did not stop there. She again rewrote history in January 2012, when she joined her mentor, Michael Manley, as the only politicians since independence to have lost and returned to office as leader of the country.  

“My life in politics has not always been easy. While some judged me harshly, I was determined to be who I wanted to be and not how others saw me. I am proud of my achievements. I’m proud that I’ve made a difference. I’m proud to have made a mark and contribution on the world stage,” Simpson Miller expressed in her final address in parliament.

Ending her time as prime minister in March 2016, and making her official political exit in June 2017, Simpson Miller, with more than 40 years of unbroken service, will continue to be an inspiration for Jamaican women and an testimony to the perseverance of the Jamaican people.

“My journey is of the girl from Wood Hall that ended up in Jamaica House as prime minister, and it is not only a journey for me but for all the girls, children and women of this country, who will now know that they, too, can achieve what they want to achieve in life,” Simpson Miller told The Gleaner in a recent exit interview.

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