Volume 2, Number 1 (2011)
The Participation of Guyanese Women in Politics and Parliament during the Administration of the People's National Congress
On December 7, 1964, after two years of ethnic conflicts, British Guiana held its fourth general election after the attainment of universal adult suffrage in 1952 under the system of Proportional Representation (PR). The incumbent People's Progressive Party (PPP) had won, by sizeable majorities, all three previous elections which had been held under the First Past the Post system. However, as a result of the 1964 PR elections, the PPP failed to win a majority. It won only 45.8% of the votes while the opposition parties, the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the United Force (UF) received 40.5% and 12.4% respectively.1 The opposition parties formed a coalition with the PNC as the majority party. The PNC was to remain in power for the next 28 years under the leadership of Forbes Burnham until his death in 1985, and then under Desmond Hoyte until the party’s defeat in 1992. Four general elections were held under the PNC's administration during which women participated in increasing numbers, with a few becoming parliamentarians and cabinet ministers. The paper will focus on the participation of women in the hierarchy of the PNC, the percentages of women on the parties' lists, in parliament as ministers of government and the factors which influenced those activities during those twenty eight years. It must, however, be stated that because of the difficulty in accessing data on the opposition political parties many of the references are to the PNC.