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Portia Simpson Miller sworn in as Jamaican Prime Minister

6 Jan, 2012


Jamaica's new Prime Minister has formally taken office at a ceremony held in the ground of the Governor General's residence in the capital, Kingston.

This is the second time Simpson Miller – her country’s first and, to date, only – female Prime Minister – has held the office.

At 66, she is an experienced politician, describing herself as ‘tried and tested’. She was first elected to Parliament in 1976, and in her long career has had ministerial responsibility for a variety of areas including local government, sport, social security, tourism, and gender issues. She says that she is an ‘advocate for the poor, the dispossessed, the oppressed and all those who remain voiceless and faceless in the corridors of power’.

A member of the centre left People's National Party (PNP), she held several internal posts becoming leader in 2006 and Prime Minister for the first time in the same year. She lost office in 2007, but regained it when her party won a decisive victory over the centre-right Jamaica Labour Party in December 2011.

The new government is taking office on a programme, of tackling both poverty and the national debt (which stands at a crippling 130% of GDP), boosting the economy and improving the climate and culture of politics. Simpson Miller also wants to make Jamaica a republic rather than a monarchy; the Queen has remained the head of state since independence in 1962, and the new Prime Minister believes that the time has come for change.

Portia Simpson-Miller’s inauguration brings the number of women prime ministers worldwide to 11, a number which includes a second in the Caribbean, Kamla Persad-Bissessar in Trinidad & Tobago. A full list of women PMs and Presidents can be found in our Factsheet.