The first woman to head a government in the world Sirimavo Bandaranaike

The first woman to head a government in the world Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Sirimavo Bandaranaike turned the scales in the world, entered modern history from its widest gates, and wrote her name in letters of gold; she is the first Sri Lankan politician to head a government in the modern history in 1960. Moreover, she opened the way for leadership positions for women.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1960 and served as prime minister for 3 terms, 1960-1965, 1970-1977, and 1994-2000. Bandaranaike began making her way towards the prime ministership, after her unusual academic excellence in a Catholic school in Sri Lanka, which relies on the English-language education system. After graduating from high school, she worked in many social programs.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike finished her studies at the age of 19, and her community work consisted of distributing food and medicine to rural villages. She also helped to establish a rural industry in order to improve the living standards of women. Moreover, she assumed the position of treasurer of the Social Service Association, until 1940.

Bandaranaike's dream of community work and improving the lives of women and girls in rural areas continued to haunt her even after her marriage to a politician, so she worked with him at first as a hostess. When he took over the prime minister, she gained his trust and became his informal advisor. She began implementing her goals in service work, and she achieved a great successes in improving the lives of women, in addition to the field trips that she carried out constantly to the rural areas of her country.

However, fate played its part with Bandaranaike, and from the heart of the ordeal, was the transformation in her life. Bandaranaike faced the most difficult situation in her life, which was the assassination of her husband in 1959. She entered the world of politics after that and completed the path of her husband. She became the first woman to be elected as prime minister in the world in 1960.

In her first official work, as prime minister, she embarked on reforms in the former British colony of Ceylon. Moreover, she worked to transform it into a socialist republic and began with the sectors of banking, education, industry, media, and trade, with the aim of nationalizing it and changing the administrative language in it from English to Sinhala.

 Bandaranaike was subjected to some difficult situations again; there was an attempt to overthrow her in 1962, but she survived, in addition to a rebellion against her in 1971, from some extremist youth, but she continued her work normally. She supervised the drafting of a new constitution in 1972, and the formation of the Republic of Sri Lanka.

The period that followed Bandaranaike’s term witnessed an improvement in the economic situation, but it was offset by a failure to address social issues. Moreover, the country entered during their reign into several long civil wars, so Bandaranaike broke her silence in 1986 and led the opposition party that demanded that the Indian peacekeeping forces not intervene in the civil war, under the pretext of violating Sri Lankan sovereignty.

Bandaranaike entered the presidential elections in 1988, but failed to win the position of president. However, she continued her political work and served as leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council in 1989 until 1994.

She retired in 2000; two months after Bandaranaike's retirement, her health deteriorated, and she passed away at the age of 84, but she recorded her name in the history records as the first woman to head a government in the history.