JIS News

Thursday, March 30, 2006 has been immortalized in the chronicles of Jamaica’s history, as the day the country welcomed Portia Simpson Miller as its first-ever female Prime Minister.
Thousands of Jamaicans from all walks of life, and members of the international community, thronged the lawns of King’s House to witness the changing of the guards, as the 61-year old Portia Simpson Miller took over the reins of leadership from P.J. Patterson.
By sunset, the baton was securely passed to Mrs. Simpson-Miller, some 32 years after she first entered representational politics.
Jamaica Information Service seized the moment to see what persons attending the swearing in ceremony thought of the historic changeover.
Alicia Baker, second form student of Haile Selassie High School, which is located in Mrs. Simpson Miller’s South West St. Andrew Constituency, said that, “today was good. I feel good; I expect that she will do better and she will lift our head high.”
Principal of Haile Selassie, Claney Barnett, was generous in her acclaim. “I’m extremely excited.it is the highest point that we (as women) can get. The women are ready to work .a lot of what has been going on in the society for change has been part of what women have been doing,” she pointed out.
The Principal lauded the move by the Prime Minister, to begin her inaugural speech with a prayer. “The emotions she expressed in prayer, convinces me God has responded to her appeal. I think it is somewhat out of the struggles of her efforts to reach where she is. Let us face it, she has struggled against the odds of all the men and (being) an only woman, she has struggled against the odds of not knowing if the women are on board with her. At this point in time, I think there is no doubt that both men and women are on board with her,” she stated.
Barbara Foster said: “the function this evening is an indication that we have literally as women, broken the glass ceiling”.
Meanwhile, Trinidadian Anthony Archer, an employee of Guardian Holdings Limited said the occasion was a “significant moment in Jamaica’s history and in the history of the Caribbean. She was very gracious in her speech in thanking Prime Minister P.J. Patterson for his role in grooming her for this position,” he said.
“It’s also a very important moment in the history of the Caribbean for women to recognize that they can rise to the highest heights in leadership in the Caribbean,” Mr. Archer noted, adding that similar sentiments were being expressed among his peers in Trinidad.
Of the beginning of her inaugural speech being a prayer he said, “I think she started her promises in the right way by lifting everything up to God. I thought that was a masterful stroke and I think it should set the pace for the people of Jamaica.for a country that has so much potential, it has been mired for a while and I think its time that there is a new voice and a new face to bring change,” he shared. Of her pledge to stamp out criminality and extortion, Mr. Archer said “it was a right statement”.
Mrs. Simpson Miller served as Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport since October 2002; Minister of Tourism and Sports from February 2000 to October 2002; Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sports from 1995 to February 2000; Minister of Labour and Welfare from 1993 to 1995; Minister of Labour, Welfare and Sports from 1989 to 1993; and has been a vice president of the People’s National Party since 1978.
She has served as member of parliament for South West St. Andrew since 1976.
Among those witnessing the watershed moment, which was presided over by Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall were:former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson; former Leader of the Opposition Edward Seaga and wife Carla; Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning; Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; Chief Minister of Turks and Caicos Islands, Michael Misick; representatives of the United States congress; members of parliament; members of the diplomatic corps and other dignitaries.