First female prime minister exits Parliament after 35 years

Author:  Edited from CMC
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has told legislators they owe it to themselves to do what is best for Jamaica as Prime Minister Andrew Holness led the praises for her long tenure in Parliament.

Simpson Miller speech“We have a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the Jamaican people,” Simpson Miller, 71, said in her last speech as a legislator on June 27 as the Parliament paid tribute to the seventh woman to be elected as a legislator and the first woman to head a government here.

“This Parliament is the bedrock of our stable democracy and our free society. It must celebrate the best of Jamaica. It must project what makes us a great people.”

Simpson Miller, who lost the last general elections to the Holness’s Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in Feb. 2016, was scheduled to hand in her letter of resignation as the Member of Parliament on June 28.

The former leader of the People’s National Party (PNP) has since been named as honorary distinguished fellow of the University of the West Indies (UWI).


In her speech, Simpson Miller thanked colleagues with whom she had served over her 35 years in Parliament for their support. She said the people of her St. Andrew South Western constituency helped to make her what she is and her life would always be intertwined with theirs.

“It has been quite a journey,” Simpson Miller said. “I have endured it all – the ridicule, the victories, and defeats. But I have stood tall and remained focused.

“I have consistently been able to do so out of the fundamental belief that good will always overcome evil.”

She the St. Andrew South Western seat in 1976, in her first attempt.


Simpson Miller credited late former Prime Minister Michael Manley’s “belief and confidence” in her, which led to him assigning her to several portfolios, and thanked former prime ministers Hugh Lawson Shearer and Edward Seaga for giving her support in her early years in politics

Holness said Simpson Miller had a “truly phenomenal career” and praised her for being Jamaica’s first and only female prime minister.

“This was no ordinary feat, and you are no ordinary woman,” Holness said, adding that Simpson Miller had also been a voice for the poor in society.

Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips said Simpson Miller’s presence in Parliament embodied all that was good about Jamaica, while others focused on what is wrong with Jamaica.