|11th, 13th, and 15th Leader of the Opposition of Trinidad and Tobago|
21 September 2015
25 February 2010 - 25 May 2010
|President||George Maxwell Richards|
26 April 2006 - 8 November 2007
|President||George Maxwell Richards|
|4th Political Leader of the United National Congress|
24 January 2010
|6th Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago|
26 May 2010 - 9 September 2015
|Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago|
5 October 2001 - 24 December 2001
27 November 1995 - 2 February 1996
|Minister of Education of Trinidad and Tobago|
22 October 1999 - 4 October 2001
|Member of Parliament|
6 November 1995
|Opposition Member of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago|
1 November 1994 - 6 October 1995
|Alderwoman for the Saint Patrick County Council|
22 April 1952
Siparia, Trinidad and Tobago
|Citizenship||Trinidadian and Tobagonian|
|Nationality||Trinidadian and Tobagonian|
|Political party||United National Congress (1994-present)|
|Residence||Philippine, Penal-Debe, Trinidad and Tobago|
Kamla Persad-Bissessar (pronounced [k?m?l?: pr?s?:d-bise:s?r?] (listen); born 22 April 1952), often referred to by her initials KPB, is a Trinidadian and Tobagonian lawyer and politician who is the Leader of the Opposition of Trinidad and Tobago, political leader of the United National Congress and was the sixth Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago from the 26th of May 2010 till the 9th of September 2015. She was the country's first female Prime Minister, Attorney General, and Leader of the Opposition, the first woman to chair the Commonwealth of Nations and the first woman of Indian origin to be a prime minister of a country outside of India and the wider South Asian region.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar was born in Siparia in southern Trinidad to Raj and Rita Persad, both of Indian descent. Her paternal grandparents were Soomintra Persad (née Gopaulsingh) and Choranji Persad, and her maternal grandparents were Rookmin and Ramprit. She has three sisters, her eldest sister is deceased and her other two sisters are Vidwatie and Sally.
She was born into a Brahmin Hindu Indian family. Her ancestors emigrated in the 1880s from India to Trinidad through the Indian indenture system. Her maternal great-grandparents (her maternal grandmother's parents) were Sumaria and Seepersad who were from India. Sumaria was from present-day Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India and had left India from the Madras Port. Her paternal great-grandparents (her paternal grandfather's parents) were Pundit Ram Lakhan Mishra and Ganga Mishra who were from India. Pundit Ram Lakhan Mishra was from Bhelupur, Bihar, India. After indentureship, Pundit Ram Lakhan and Ganga Mishra had settled at Boodhoo Trace in the town of Penal in southern Trinidad. In 2012, Persad-Bissessar visited her paternal great-grandfather's village on a state visit to India.
Persad-Bissessar spent her early childhood living with her parents and paternal grandparents in Penal, where she attended the Mohess Road Hindu School. In 1959, at the age of seven, her family moved to Siparia where she attended the Erin Road Presbyterian Primary School, and later the Siparia Union Presbyterian Primary School. In 1963, she was accepted to Iere High School in Siparia, a new co-ed school at the time. There she was a top debating student, champion badminton and netball player, and she excelled in her classes and was put into special classes to write the GCE O Levels in 1966. She graduated in 1969.
When Persad-Bissessar was sixteen, she wanted to go to the United Kingdom to further her studies, but her traditional father and uncles insisted she stayed in Trinidad and Tobago. However, her mother eventually convinced them to send her. Persad-Bissessar then left Trinidad at the age of seventeen, in August of 1969, to attended Norwood Technical College in West Norwood, London, England. While in college in England, she worked as a social worker with the Church of England's Children's Society of London.
By the time she left Trinidad she had already met her future husband Gregory Bisessar and he was already in England when she was attending college. They married two years later in 1971, when she was eighteen and he was twenty-two. They later left England for Jamaica, where they spent fourteen years. In Jamaica she taught at St Andrew High School in Kingston and at the University of the West Indies in Mona, and she was also a consultant lecturer at the Jamaica College of Insurance. Persad-Bissessar also attended the University of the West Indies and the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago. She was awarded a B.A. (Hons.), a Diploma in Education, a B.A. of Laws (Hons.) and a Legal Education Certificate. In 2006 she obtained an Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Trinidad.
In 1987 Persad-Bissessar entered politics serving as an alderwoman on the Saint Patrick County Council till 1991. She then became an opposition senator from 1994 till 1995. Persad-Bissessar then became a Member of Parliament for the Siparia constituency in 1995 and has been ever since. She served as Attorney General in 1995 until Ramesh Maharaj was able to disassociate himself from ongoing cases and again in 2001 after Maharaj left the party. When the UNC formed Government on 22 December 2000, she was sworn in as the Minister of Education.
On 25 April 2006 she received the support of the majority of Opposition MPs for the post of Leader of the Opposition. The position of Leader of the Opposition was declared vacant by President George Maxwell Richards after Basdeo Panday was convicted of failing to make an accurate declaration to the Integrity Commission concerning a bank account held in London. Persad-Bissessar was subsequently appointed Leader of the Opposition on 26 April 2006.
On 24 January 2010, Kamla Persad-Bissessar was elected political leader of the UNC, emerging victorious over the party's founder, Basdeo Panday. She was formally appointed opposition leader on 25 February 2010, having gained the support of a majority of UNC MPs.
Persad-Bissessar took office as Prime Minister after the victory of the People's Partnership in the general election of 24 May 2010, defeating the previous government of the People's National Movement, which had called an early election. She was the first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago and is also the first female Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office. She was succeeded as Chairperson-in-Office by Julia Gillard with the opening of the 2011 CHOGM on 28 October 2011.
On September 21, 2015, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar was appointed leader of the opposition by president Anthony Carmona after her party was defeated at the polls, following the September 7, 2015 general elections. The People's National Movement led by Dr. Keith Rowley secured 23 out of 41 seats to form the government, while the People's Partnership coalition led by Persad-Bissessar secured 18 out of the 41 seats in the House of Representatives to form the opposition. In the 2020 general election, the People's National Movement won re-election and Persad-Bissessar remained the Leader of the Opposition. However, the United National Congress did pick up two more seats than previously held.
|Year||Country||Award Name||Given by||Field of Merit|
|2012||India||Pravasi Bharatiya Samman||President of India||Public Services|
Persad-Bissessar married to Dr. Gregory Bissessar in 1971 and they one son named Kris Bissessar. She says, "I am baptised in the Baptist faith. I have no specific church as such. I am of both the Hindu and the Baptist faiths." She had raised her brother's children after he died in a car accident.