Janet Jagan (1920 – 2009) was Guyana’s first woman Deputy Speaker, first woman to be elected in the Georgetown City Council, first woman cabinet minister under self-government, later first woman Prime Minister and then the nation’s first woman President. Within 3 years of her arrival in the colony of British Guiana in 1943, she was instrumental in the formation of a Women’s Political and Economic Organisation and later a co-founder of the Political Affairs Committee that was the forerunner to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). She is the recipient of the country’s highest honour; Order of Excellence (OE), the Woman of Achievement award from the University of Guyana, and in 1997 the Gandhi Gold Medal for Peace, Democracy and Women’s Rights by UNECSO. She was long involved with the literary and cultural life of Guyana. She strongly believed that Guyanese children needed books which reflected their own realities. In 1993, Peepal Tree Press published her When Grandpa Cheddi was a Boy and Other Stories, followed by Patricia, the Baby Manatee (1995), Anastasia the Ant-Eater (1997) and The Dog Who Loved Flowers.
This is part of a series I’m doing for S4 Foundation during Women’s History Month.