No ordinary woman - Simpson Miller lauded as defender of the poor, champion of the marginalised
On Tuesday, February 5, 1974, she announced herself to Jamaica with a victory at the local government polls. As fate would have it, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, saw her triumphant exit, having left an indelible mark on the world over. As the tributes came pouring in from Gordon House, Jamaica's first and only female prime minister wept. Clad in her usual radiant smile, she hugged, kissed, and saluted her way out of politics after four decades of services. Here's what some of her colleagues in the House had to say about the titan known as Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller.
Minister of state, OPM
Without any doubt, she has been a champion for the poor and oppressed. She has never spoken anytime without saying "the poor of Jamaica". I'm grateful for the relationship we have shared as cousins. We're proud of being cousins, and behalf of the people of St Catherine, we say thanks to you for your service to the people of Jamaica and your country.
In a field of gross under-representation by women, Portia Simpson Miller has not only done outstandingly well in terms of her electoral success, but she has attained the highest office possible, that of prime minister. That is no ordinary feat, and you are no ordinary woman. You have been a leading voice for gender equality and women's issues. There's a lot to emulate from your leadership. The defence of the poor in society must never be left unattended. You have been the voice that has kept governments focused on policies and programmes that are beneficial to the poor. I'm saying to you on your retirement, you don't have to worry, there is a new defender of the poor people of Jamaica.
Angela Brown Burke
She has invested hope in children that no position is too great for them to aspire to be. Her love for the poor has driven her to ensure that education is a major plank in her development plan for her constituency.
Dr Peter Phillips
Leader of Opposition
While others might focus on things that are wrong with Jamaica, Portia embodies the best that we are as
a people. She demonstrated the sheer grit and determination to succeed that defines so many of our modern day heroes from Bob Marley to Usain Bolt. At every step along the way, Jamaicans trusted and believed in her basic commitment to the building of a Jamaica that offered equal opportunities to all Jamaicans, and to ensure that the most marginalised did not have to remain at the back of line.
Olivia 'Babsy' Grange
Minister of Culture, Gender,
Entertainment and Sport
Her leadership and story are inspirational. People have had to pay attention to, and give respect to, the women in politics, because of outstanding leaders, such as you, Portia, who work hard day and night and who showed passion and courage in executing your duty to your constituency and people of Jamaica.
She was relentless about the protection and welfare of our women and children. Also, It was very visionary on her part to have created a ministry of climate change. One of her remarkable achievements as the first female Prime Minister in Jamaica, is that having lost an election, she returned five years later to reserve the loss. In her long and distinguished career, she has experienced setbacks, but she regarded a setback as a set-up for a comeback.
Leader of opposition business
I have been a great admirer of Mrs Simpson Miller. Like so many, I became attracted to her because of my own background and her preoccupation with always advancing the welfare of those who are neediest in our society.
Member of Parliament, South East St Andrew
While there's no doubt about how loved Portia Simpson Miller is by the Jamaican people, there was a minority that criticised her. But even in the face of those criticisms, she faced all negativity with dignity and grace. The most important part of Mrs Simpson Miller's legacy of dedication to public service is that she never gave up fighting for poor people, she never gave up the principles of the PNP, she's never gave up on the Jamaican people.
Kamina Johnson Smith
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
I do not know where in Jamaica you would find a woman of any political stripe, belief or ideology who does not admire your rise, your ascendancy. Mrs Simpson Miller has travelled a tremendous political journey, serving our country for more than 40 years at different levels of the political realm, vehemently challenging all biases predicated on a political culture, steeped in masculine traditions.
Member of Parliament, Eastern St Thomas
The name Portia Simpson Miller will be remembered with awe and much gratitude as long as Jamaica shall live. I dare say many years from now historians will write kindly of her stewardship. We as leaders have a serious act to follow.