Enid Maud Bennett, OJ, CD
Former Cabinet Minister, Jamaica
Enid Maud Bennett was a Jamaican politician, former Member of Parliament, and Former Cabinet Minister.
Early life and education
Enid Maude Bennett, OJ, CD, was born right there in Linstead, St Catherine, on 18 May 1931, daughter of James Bennett, haulage contractor and Margaret Gordon (nee Nattoo), housewife and farmer. Her early education at Linstead Primary School led to obtaining the first, second and third year Jamaica Local Examination Certificates, then later at St Helen's Commercial School, also in Linstead, where she qualified as a stenographer, the initial profession that was destined to launch her political career.
Enid Bennett was a Member of Parliament for over 30 years representing the constituencies of Central and West Central St Catherine for seven consecutive terms, the longest serving female MP prior to Portia Simpson Miller.
Bennett’s fixed election motto over the years was "I promise service". She said it was a policy demanded of her by her political mentor, the national hero and founder of the JLP, Sir Alexander Bustamante.
Bennett started serving the JLP at a young age, as a branch delegate before joining the staff of then MP for St Catherine Central and Minister of Home Affairs Roy McNeill, as his personal and constituency secretary.
She was later elected as a councillor for the Sligoville division in the St Catherine Parish Council, before replacing McNeill as MP for St Catherine Central in 1967, when he moved to St Catherine Eastern.
Bennett went on to win seven consecutive general elections – two in St Catherine Central and five more in St Catherine West Central — setting a record for female MPs of 30 continuous years as an MP in the House of Representatives.
She served as Minster State in the Ministry of Local Government between 1980 and 1982, and Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security between 1982 and 1989.
She was elected as a deputy leader of the JLP in 1978, replacing current Speaker of the House of Representatives Pearnel Charles. She was the only female deputy leader of the party. She was a trustee of the JLP up to the time of her death.
Honours and awards
Bennet was awarded the country’s fourth-highest honour, the Order of Jamaica, in 2012
Bennet died on 22 December 2017 in the Andrew's Memorial Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, aged 86. She was accorded an Official Funeral on on Saturday, 20 January 2018 at St. Helen's Catholic Church in Linstead, St. Catherine, Jamaica followed by internment at Heartfield Cemetery in Linstead.