Oct 20, 2020 Letters
Janet Jagan was born on October 20, 1920 and died on March 28, 2009. She became Guyana’s first female President on December 11, 1997. She scored several other ‘firsts’ in her long and eventful political career including the first female Prime Minister, the first Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and among the first women Ministers of Government. Because of failing health, she was unable to complete her full term in office and resigned as President on August 11, 1999.
To say that Mrs. Jagan contributed significantly to the political, economic and social development of Guyana would be an understatement. She, along with her husband Cheddi and other party leaders were the architects of modern day Guyana. She was not only a significant player on the political landscape of Guyana but was instrumental in the creation and shaping of that landscape.
Mrs. Jagan, along with Cheddi Jagan, Ashton Chase and HJM Hubbard were the founding members of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) formed in 1946 which was the forerunner to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of which she was also a founder member and General Secretary. She co-founded the Women’s Progressive and Economic Organization (WPEO) now WPO, in July 1946 and played a leading role in advancing the cause of women in Guyana and the Guyanese people as a whole.
Mrs. Jagan endured several challenges and difficulties during the course of her life including imprisonment and political harassment but she bore them all in strides without grudge, malice or ill-will. She was named by the TIME Magazine as one of 16 of the most ‘rebellious’ women in world history, a fitting tribute to someone who selflessly and courageously stood up for the cause of a better and more humane society.
As we celebrate the life and work of this extraordinary leader, we should all pledge to uphold the values and principles to which she dedicated her entire life. Guyana is today in a much better place thanks to her. She has left behind a rich legacy of struggle and commitment to the cause of a free, democratic and prosperous Guyana.
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