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Billie Miller
(8 January 1944 -)
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H.E. Ambassador Dame Billie Antoinette Miller, DA, BCH, LLD
Former Deputy Prime Minister, and current Ambassador, Barbados

Dame Billie Miller is a former Barbadian parliamentarian and Deputy Prime Minister.

Early life and education

Dame Billie Miller was born in Barbados on 8 January 1944.  She was educated at Belair Junior School and Queen's College in Barbados, King's College, Durham University, and the Council of Legal Education in England and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1968 and one year later to the Bar of Barbados. 

Career

During the periods 1969-1976 and 1987-1994, she worked as a practising Barrister and Attorney-at-Law.  For several years she was the only woman practising at the private Bar.  Her practice was mainly a civil court and chamber practice where she carved out a specialty in family law in advance of modern family law legislation in Barbados. She is a member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn-of-Court, London and was a member of the International Federation of Women Lawyers from 1975-76.

Dame Billie Antoinette Miller was re-elected Member of Parliament for the City of Bridgetown for the seventh time and was appointed Senior Minister in May 2003, retaining the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.  She was the first woman to sit on the Cabinet of Barbados. Over the years, her ministerial portfolios have included Health and National Insurance (1976-1981), Education (1981-1985, with the Culture portfolio being added (1985), Senator and Leader of Opposition Business (1986-1991), Deputy Leader of the Opposition (1993-1994), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business with the responsibility of Leader of the House of Assembly (1994), Foreign Affairs, Tourism and International Transport (1995), Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (1999-2008).

At the international level, Dame Billie Miller was the Co-ordinator of CARICOM Ministerial Spokespersons with Responsibility for External Negotiations in Bilateral, African Caribbean and Pacific States-European Union (ACP-EU), World Trade Organization (WTO) and Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) matters (appointed February 2002). At the national level, she is a member of the Barbados Family Planning Association, the Barbados National Trust and the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. In the past, she has served as:

  • Member of the Council of the University of the West Indies (1981-1986)
  • Chairman of the NGO Planning Committee for the International Conference on Population and Development which was held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 
  • Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (1996-1999) – the first time a woman has been chairman since its establishment in 1911.
  • President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (1991-1993, 1993-1995, 1995-1997)
  • Member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Central Council, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc.
  • Member of the United Nations Population Fund's Advisory Panel for Activities Concerning Women
  • Member of the Inter-American Dialogue
  • Chairman of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Advisory Council on Women in Development in Washington (1996-2002)
  • The first woman Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (1997-1998)
  • President of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States Council of Ministers (1998)
  • Chairperson of the Association of Caribbean States’ Ministerial Council (2000-2001)
  • Vice-Chairperson of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (2000-2002)
  • President of the 32nd Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in Barbados (2002) 
  • Vice Chairperson in the bureau of the Chair of the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong, China (2005)
  • President of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development for the Caribbean and Latin America (1999-2006)

On 27 May 2018, Dame Bille was appointed Ambassador at large and Plenipotentiary in the Mia Mottley Administration.

Honours and awards

She has received many distinguished awards including: the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal (1977); the Barbados Centennial Award 2000; the Grantley Adams Award for public service (2001 – the highest award given by the Barbados Labour Party); the National Order of Juan Mora Fernandez (2001, Government of Costa Rica); the “Woman of Great Esteem Award” (2002, US-based Q-Kingdom Ministries); and the “Dame Elsie Payne Award of Excellence” (2002 by the Queen’s College Association). She was also named “Grand Officer of the National Order of Benin” (June 2000) and was vested with the title of “Honorary Fellow of the Honors College at Florida International University” (2001).

The accolade of Dame of St. Andrew (Barbados’ highest honour) was conferred on her by His Excellency the Governor General on 1 December 2003, in recognition of her distinguished career and her outstanding contribution to Barbados, International Organizations and Politics. Dame Billie was honoured on 21 October 2004, in New York, by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region during its 50th Anniversary Celebration for her outstanding contribution to the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health.

On 12 April 2006, in Washington D.C., she was presented with the Order Bernardo O’Higgins in the rank of Gran Cruz by the Government of Chile for her contribution in the forging of stronger bilateral relations between Barbados and Chile.  On 16 June 2006, in New York, the Caribbean Tourism Organization presented her with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her distinguished service to the Caribbean and her promotion of the region as the world’s premier warm-weather destination.

Dame Billie Miller was selected as the Laureate for the United Nations Population Award, 2008, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the awareness of population issues.

Dame Billie was conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the University of the West Indies on 18 October 2014.

Resources

PHOTO GALLERY
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Billie Miller being sworn into office following the 1981 General Election by Governor-General Sir Deighton Ward.
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Dame Bille Mille at the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly 2002.
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Dame Billie Miller, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Foreign Affairs, addresses the General Debate of the Sixty Second Session of the United Nations General Assembly - 3 October 2007
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Dame Billie Miller, pictured in 2008 accepting the UN Population Fund award for outstanding work in improving people’s health and welfare. Photograph: Paulo Filgueiras/UN Photo
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Billie Miller campaigning in the 1976 by-election in the City of Bridgetown, which she won.
Sources
www.blp.org.bb
www.nationalwomenscommission.org/billiemiller.htm
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Billie Miller
QUICK FACTS
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Occupation Lawyer, Politician
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Date of Birth 8 January 1944
Place of Birth Barbados
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Notable Accomplishments
Ambassador at large and Plenipotentiary
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados
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