Ives Heraldine ‘Ma’ Rock, MBE, JP
Former Cabinet Minister, Saint Lucia
Ives Heraldine Rock was an educator, politician, and former Cabinet Minister in Saint Lucia.
Early life and education
Ives Heraldine Rock née Gajadhar was born on 28 July 199 in Saint Lucia. She was the eldest child in the family. Her father was the Headmaster at the Forestiere Methodist School.
Heraldine Rock pioneered the entry of women into St. Lucia politics and became the first woman elected to Parliament, first female Minister and first female vice-president of the United Worker’s Party.
She worked as public relations officer of the St. Lucia Banana Growers Association but resigned in 1964 to enter politics. She was elected first vice-president of the United Workers Party (UWP). In the parliamentary elections of June 1964, she was the losing candidate for South Castries. Later that year she gained a seat on the Castries Town Board.
Rock became the first woman to hold political office in Saint Lucia when she beat George Odlum to win the parliamentary seat of Castries South East on 7 May 1974. She then became the first woman to serve as a government minister as Minister of Housing, Community Development, Local Government, and Social Affairs from 1974 to 1980.
In addition to overseeing the establishment of several community centres, Rock established a Women’s Desk, which would be later transformed into a Women’s Department and Women Affairs Ministry. She was also a former Second Vice-President of the St. Lucia Family Planning Association.
She decided not to contest the general elections in 1982, but when the United Workers Party won the 1982 elections was appointed to serve as a government Senator until 1987. She later served on various private and public boards including Board of Directors of the St. Lucia Electricity Services and the Development Control Authority. Rock served as a Justice of the Peace from 1965.
Rock is remembered as an involved farmer, particularly in the banana sector. She was outspoken and active in pressing for better conditions for the average farmer. She remained an active famer until her death.
Honours and awards
She was invested as a Member of the British Empire (MBE).
She was previously married to the late Edward Rock, a newspaper editor, but they subsequently divorced.
Death and legacy
Rock died on 31 August 2012. She was 79 years old. She was accorded a State funeral service at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Lucia.
Heraldine Rock will be remembered as the remarkable woman of the Caribbean, whose politics was grounded in the beliefs of service and selflessness. Recognizing the contributions to the countries, the third government building on the Castries waterfront in the capital of Saint Lucia was named in her honour.