Guyanese Women in History… First Women elected to the British Guiana Legislature

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Three women, Janet Jagan, Jane Phillips Gay and Jessica Burnham were the first females elected as Members of British Guiana Parliament in May 1953 after the first universal adult suffrage elections were held in the same year.

Jessica Burnham, Jane Phillips-Gay and Janet Jagan in 1953
Jessica Burnham, Jane Phillips-Gay and Janet Jagan in 1953

Former First Lady Janet Jagan became the first female Deputy Speaker of the Legislature in 1953; the first female Prime Minister in March 1997 and the first female President of Guyana in December 1997.
Jane Phillips-Gay was a trade unionist and an ordained Baptist minister. She attended Georgetown’s St. Ambrose Primary, Brickdam Roman Catholic, Christ Church Anglican and the Collegiate School from 1918 to 1930. She became involved in trade union activities in the 1940s. Jessica Burnham was the sister of former President Forbes Burnham and a member of the People’s Progressive Party.