Entering the active political domain in 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike assumed the highest seat of
power as Prime Minister of Ceylon in July 1960.
Hailing from a family which was involved in the political administration of the island and marrying into another such family, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was exposed to the political sphere from an early age. Marriage to S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, a leading Minister at the time, gave her a ring side seat. Her subsequent entry into active politics after the assassination of her husband and following persistent appeals from members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party for her to take to the helm of the party her late husband had founded, saw Ceylon receiving its first woman party leader, first woman prime minister and later on the first woman leader of the opposition as well. Her recognition globally was even more outstanding as she entered a political arena which had hitherto been dominated by men.
Continuing her late husband’s policies, introducing her own and striding the political arena with aplomb, Sirimavo Bandaranaike proved to be a force to be reckoned with. Whether her first term in office from 1960 to 1965 or her return in 1970, she was able to leave her mark in national and international politics. Her subsequent return to the office of Prime Minister under a different constitution in 1994 saw her play the role of matriarch not only of the SLFP but of Sri Lankan politics. Forty years of service to the nation is a noteworthy contribution for someone who was thrust into politics under trying circumstances. During those four decades, she faced innumerable challenges and obstacles yet she always emerged unscathed and more importantly, determined, to forge ahead.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike blazed across the political arena of Sri Lanka and the world.