We are achieving our mission in a variety of ways while preserving our historical roots
through the induction of great women into the Hall of Fame of the WGEC.
These are the Hall of Famer of the WGEC. Select any of the women to discover their stories and learn how they have influenced
women's rights and this country through activism, mentorship, and legislature.
Janet Jagan was born as Janet Rosenberg to middle-class Jewish parents in Chicago, Illinois. Janet was jailed for five months in 1953 and kept under house arrest for two years. She was elected to Parliament in 1973 and was re-elected in 1980, 1985, and 1992. Janet became the longest-serving Member of Parliament (46 yrs). On January 1, 1950, she and her husband were co-founders of the People's Progressive Party (PPP); Janet served as the PPP's General Secretary from 1950 to 1970. On May 27th 1953, she and others formed the Women's Progressive Organisation (WPO).
Jane Phillips-Gay was one of the first African-Guyanese women to enter the British Guiana legislature. She was born on the 2nd November, 1913 and won the Primary School Scholarship (1925) to the Collegiate High School, passing the Junior Cambridge Examination in 1929. That same year, she preached her first sermon at St. Stephen's Church entitled: "Blessed are thou among women." In 1942, Jane Phillips was married to Ivan Gay; but opted to retain her maiden name and thus became well known as Jane Phillips-Gay.
Viola Victorine Burnham was born to James Nathaniel and Marian Harper. She is a former first lady of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, married to Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham in 1967. She signed the UN - CEDAW document which was officially ratified in 1980. She was indeed an inspiration to the women in the WRSM. As Vice-President, she was responsible for the preparatory activities related to the establishment of SIMAP.
Voluntary service, pro bono publico, in the interest of Guyanese in general and consumers in particular is the hallmark of Sheila Holder’s Resume for the last four decades. Prior to this, her focus was on homemaking, raising a family of three children, coping with their educational, nutritional and motivational needs at a time when runaway inflation, food shortages and declining academia were overwhelming the Guyanese population. An executive member of the Guyana Consumers’ Association (GCA) from 1982-2001, voluntary service in that organisation culminated in election to the office of President of the GCA in 1995. She contested national elections in 1997 in an alliance of Labour, Citizens and the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) and was sworn in as an elected member of the Eight Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana on the 4th May 2001.
Kowsillia also known as Alice, was born in Leonora Sugar Estate to parents who also worked there. Alice Kowsillia also known as Alice was born in Leonora, County Antrim. She was a member of the weeding gang at Leonora Estate when she was only 17 years of age. She joined a strike which was called by the Union in February 1964 for better conditions of work and pay. Kowsillia and some other female workers in an attempt to prevent the scabs from crossing the bridge decided to lie on it. Kowsillia's heroic and non-violent act of courage – defending her worker's rights in the face of the raw power and brutality unleashed by the colonial over class remains an awe-inspiring example of heroism by a Guyanese woman for all seasons.
Eileen Cox was awarded a Government of Guyana Scholarship and attended Bishop's High School in Georgetown. She was Guyana's leading citizen-activist as a Consumer's Rights Advocate. She has a daughter, Sharon, who is a writer. Eileen Cox Association Guyana was President of the Association for 14 years. One of the key posts she held, and the first for a woman, was as Editor of the Hansard, the official publication of the Guyana Parliament. Her advice to young women and girls is that they must keep pushing on with their career and don't let the men keep them down.
The Honourable Madam Justice Desiree Bernard is the recipient of the Order of Roraima of Guyana – the second highest national award. Her nine other Awards include the Medal of Service from the Caribbean Women's Association and the 2005 CARICOM Triennial Award for Women. Justice Bernard is concerned about the violence that is pervasive throughout the Caribbean. She was involved in the formation of the Georgetown Legal Aid Clinic. Justice Bernard also served with distinction as a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Her publications include:"The Domestic Application of International Human Rights Norms as it Affects Women" and "Confronting Gender-Based Violence in the Caribbean". Her advice to young women is to let excellence be their watch-word and to always perform to the best of their ability.
Diane McTurk has raised over 50 orphaned otter cubs, returning most of them to the wild for a chance at freedom. She co-authored a scientific paper entitled:"Hand rearing and rehabilitation of orphaned wild otters on the Rupununi River, Guyana". Diane McTurk opened her home to eco-tourists in 1983. She is the visionary behind both the Karanambu Trust and Karanambu Lodge. She received the Caribbean Tourism Organization's "Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award". Diane McTurk was recognised by the Women & Gender Equality Commission as an Honoree in 2014. She is a pioneer rancher, conservationist and eco-tourism leader in her beloved Karanambu on the Rupununi River.
Jane Phillips-Gay was one of the first African-Guyanese women to enter the British Guiana legislature. She was born on the 2nd November, 1913 and won the Primary School Scholarship (1925) to the Collegiate High School, passing the Junior Cambridge Examination in 1929. That same year, she preached her first sermon at St. Stephen’s Church entitled: “Blessed are thou among women.” In 1942, Jane Phillips was married to Ivan Gay; but opted to retain her maiden name and thus became well known as Jane Phillips-Gay.