Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was the first female prime minister in the world. She was the first female to be elected head of government in the world.
Commonly known as Sirimavo Bandaranaike, she became the prime minister of Sri Lanka on 21 July 1960.
She served three terms. Her first term was from 1960 to 1965, the second term was from 1970 to 1977 and last term from 1994 to 2000. She served as prime minister for a total of 18 years. She was the Sri Lanka’s longest-serving Prime Minister.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was born on 17 April 1916, as Sirimavo Ratwatte. She was the eldest daughter of Barnes Ratwatte Dissawe and Rosalind Hilda Mahawelatanna Kumarihamy a Kandyan “radala” family of aristocratic lineage.
Interesting facts about Sirimavo Bandaranaike first female Prime Minister in the world:
- The first female Prime Minister went to St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo where she was taught by Roman Catholic nuns.
- She married Solomon W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who was a member of parliament at the time in 1940. He became prime minister in 1956 as the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
- Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Solomon W.R.D. Bandaranaike had 17 years of age difference when they got married. They had three children, Chandrika, Sunethra and Anura.
- Sirimavo started her political career after her husband was shot on 25 September 1959 and died the following day. She was named as the leader of the party and led the party to win elections in July 1960.
- Sirimavo Bandaranaike also served as the Minister of Defence and External Affairs of Sri Lanka.
- She worked and focused on improving the lives of women and girls in rural areas of Sri Lanka. She created the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs in Sri Lanka in 1975.
- During her second term, she became more and more intolerant of criticism and forced critical media outlets to shut down. She used a clause of the new constitution to delay the elections indefinitely.
- In 1980, she was stripped of her civil rights on the charges of delaying the elections and abusing her power. She was forced out of her seat in parliament and expelled for seven years from the government.
- The first female Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike died on 10 October 2000 of a heart attack. She was 84 years old.