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The Divine Miss M [userpic]
Headlines - 1960
by The Divine Miss M (mightyafrodite)

1960: Ceylon chooses world's first woman PM
Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, widow of Ceylon's assassinated prime minister Solomon Bandaranaike, has become the world's first woman prime minister.

Her Sri Lanka Freedom Party won a resounding victory in the general election taking 75 out of 150 seats.

Mrs Bandaranaike only entered politics after her husband was shot by an extremist Buddhist on 26 September 1959.

She has become known as the "weeping widow" for frequently bursting into tears during the election campaign and vowing to continue her late husband's socialist policies.

This week's election was called after Dudley Senanayake's United National Party failed to produce a working majority after winning elections in March.

Aristocratic by birth
Mrs Bandaranaike was born into the Ceylon aristocracy and her husband was a landowner. She was educated by Roman Catholic nuns at St Bridget's school in the capital, Colombo, and is a practising Buddhist.

She married in 1940 aged 24 and has three children - and until her husband's death seemed content in her role as mother and retiring wife.

Her SLFP aims to represent the "little man" although its policies during the campaign were not clear.

Mr Bandaranaike attributed her success to the "people's love and respect" for her late husband and urged her supporters to practise "simple living, decorum and dignity".

Her husband came to power in 1955, eight years after independence, and declared himself a Buddhist which appealed to nationalists. But his government was wracked by infighting among Sinhalese and Tamils and lacked direction.

Mrs Bandaranaike inherits a country in a state of flux and her party's proposed programme of nationalisation may bring her into conflict with foreign interests in commodities like tea, rubber and oil.




Source:BBC.