Janet Jagan: President, Guyana, 1997-1999, d.2009
IN MEMORY: In 1997, Janet Jagan become the first female president of Guyana. In 1943, prior to her time as President, she worked with her husband, Cheddi Jagan, in his dental practice in Guyana. In 1957, she was elected to the House of Assembly from Essequibo constituency and became Minister of Labour, Health and Housing. She later succeeded Claude Christian as Minister of Home Affairs upon Christian's death in 1963, but resigned from the Cabinet in 1964. As a member of the Elections Commission for the opposition in 1967, she expressed concern about the possibility of vote rigging. She was also the editor of the People's Progressive Party's (PPP) newspaper Mirror from 1973 to 1997. Janet Jagan and her husband were co-founders of the left-wing PPP. Jagan was elected to Parliament in 1973 and was re-elected in 1980, 1985, and 1992, eventually becoming the longest-serving member of Parliament (46 years). Cheddi Jagan was elected as President of Guyana in 1992, and Janet Jagan became First Lady. She represented Guyana at the United Nations for three months in 1993, temporarily replacing Rudy Insanally when the latter was President of the United Nations General Assembly. After Cheddi Jagan's death, Janet Jagan was sworn in as Prime Minister as well as First Vice President on March 17, 1997. Jagan was the presidential candidate of the PPP in the December 1997 election. The PPP won the election, making Jagan the first female President of Guyana, as well as the country's first Jewish and first U.S.-born leader. She was also the third woman elected in her own right as chief executive of a country in the Western Hemisphere, after Eugenia Charles of Dominica and Violeta Chamorro of Nicaragua. She was named a Freedom hero by The My Hero Project.