Cheddi Jagan Research Centre
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Biographical Summary of Janet JaganJanet Jagan Portrait

Born: Janet Rosenberg - October 20, 1920.

Died March 28, 2009

Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Education: University of Detroit; Wayne University; Michigan State College; Cook County School of Nursing.

Personal Details: Married Cheddi Jagan, August 5, 1943; two children and five grand-children.

Labour/Political Details: Janet Jagan came to British Guiana in December 1943, and worked for 10 years as a Dental Nurse in Dr Cheddi Jagan's clinic. She almost immediately became involved in the labour struggle and was a member of the colony's first-ever union, the British Guiana Labour Union. She worked with labour hero, Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, to organise domestics.

1946: With other women, founded the Women's Political and Economic Organisation (later called W.P.O.)

One of the founders of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC). Edited the PAC Bulletin.

1947: Contested the general elections under limited franchise in Central Georgetown, but lost.

1948: Took part in fund raising for the East Coast Demerara sugar strike which was put down by colonial police. She was acquainted with the men who were to become the Enmore Martyrs. Their struggle was to become hers.

1950: One of the founders of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), and was Elected party's General Secretary and held that post between 1950-1970.Up until her death she was a Member of the Central Committee and Executive Committee of the People’s Progressive Party. She has served as International Secretary and Executive Secretary.

Appointed first editor of Thunder, PPP’s official organ.

Became the first elected woman to the Georgetown City Council.

1953: A founder of the Women's Progressive Organisation (WPO), she continued to hold the post of President of this premier women's association until her death.

1953: One of the three women to enter the house of assembly, as a representative of the Essequibo constituency.

First woman to become Deputy Speaker of the Legislature.

1954: Following suspension of the Constitution and the ouster of PPP Government by the British colonialists, she was jailed for six months. Restricted after release to the city of Georgetown. She had to report to the police weekly.

1957-1961: Janet Jagan was returned by the constituency of Essequibo to the Legislature. Appointed Minister of Labour, Health and Housing.

1963: On the death of the Minister of Home Affairs, Claude Christian, she became Minister of Home Affairs and a member of the Senate.

1964: Resigned as Minister in protest over incidents in Wismar.

1967: Opposition member on the Elections Commission. She warned the nation about elections rigging.

1970 - 1997: Mrs. Jagan along with fellow journalists at the "Mirror" - Clinton Collymore, Moses Nagamotoo and Kellawan Lall, founded the Union of Guyanese Journalists (UGJ) and she became its first President.

1973 - 1997: Editor of the Mirror Newspaper.

After PPP ended a boycott of Parliament to protest against the rigging of the elections in 1973, she returned to the House as an opposition MP. She served in the House continuously, and was returned in 1980, 1985 and 1992. In April 1997 she was the longest serving member of Parliament.

1992: After Guyana's first free and fair elections in post -independent Guyana, she was designated First Lady of the Republic. She continued her work as Editor of Mirror.

1993: Three-month stint as Ambassador to the United Nations when Guyana's Permanent Representative, Dr Rudy Insanally was elected President of the General Assembly.

Appointed Chairperson of Castellani House Committee of Management - home of the National Art Gallery Collection; and Chairperson of National Commission on the Rights of the Child from 1992-1997.

Mar. 17, 1997: Janet Jagan was sworn in as Guyana's first woman Prime Minister and First Vice-President.

Dec. 19, 1997: Janet Jagan was sworn in as the first woman President of the Republic of Guyana and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. She resigned on August 8, 1999 due to ill health.

March 2000: she poured her energy into the establishment of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre.

Publications: Author of several publications including works on the history of the PPP and Rigged Elections in Guyana; and 5 children's story books among which are "When Grandpa Cheddi was a Boy", "Children's Stories of Guyana's Freedom Struggles" and "Alligator Ferry Service".

Honours: Janet Jagan is recipient of the Nation's (Guyana's) highest honour - Order of Excellence (O.E.)

Woman of Achievement award from the University of Guyana

In 1997 was awarded the Gandhi Gold Medal for Peace, Democracy and Women's Rights by UNECSO.

Guyana Folk Festival Award - 2009 (PDF doc) 

Janet Jagan on Time Magazine's list of 16 of History's Most Rebellious Women - March 2011(PDF doc)   

Film review of movie Thunder in Guyana by P. Hintzen

The Nation - In Radical Matrimony by Baz Dreisinger