Bangladesh gets first woman Speaker

State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury has taken oath as the youngest and the first woman Speaker of Bangladesh.

Published : 30 April 2013, 05:40 AM
Updated : 1 May 2013, 10:33 AM

The 47-year old professional lawyer succeeds Abdul Hamid who was elected President last week following the death of Md Zillur Rahman.

Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali put the resolution to voice vote during Tuesday’s parliament session and Chaudhury was supported unanimously.

In a surprise move, the ruling Awami League on Monday night nominated her for the post.

It is an unique moment in Bangladesh's history with women holding the positions of Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of Parliament, several key ministers and now the Speaker of Parliament.

The speakers of Indian and Pakistani parliament at the moment are also women.

Chaudhury entered Parliament, after a brilliant academic career, for the first time as an MP from one of the seats reserved for women.

This is the first time Bangladesh has a Speaker elected from one of reserved seats for women.

Now she has to relinquish her ministerial position.

The Speaker’s office in Parliament had been lying vacant since former Speaker Abdul Hamid was sworn-in as President on Apr 24.

Deputy Speaker Ali became the acting Speaker when Hamid took over as Acting President on Mar 14.

Shirin Sharmin's father Rafiqullah Chaudhury was the Personal Secretary of Bangladesh's founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Her mother Professor Naiyer Sultana was a Member of Public Service Commission and her grandfather a judge in the erstwhile East Pakistan High Court.

She topped her SSC in Humanities from the Dhaka Education Board in 1983 and stood second in the HSC exams from the same board in 1985.

In 1989, she stood first class first in her LLB (Honours) examination from the Dhaka University, clearing the LLM a year later with distinction.

On a Commonwealth Scholarship, she completed her PhD on human rights and constitutional laws – ‘Right to Life’ – from Essex University in the United Kingdom in 2000.

She enrolled at the Bar Council in 1992 and with the High Court two years later. In 2008, she was enrolled with the Appellate Division.

Chaudhury became a member of the Bangladesh Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Dhaka Bar Association in 2000.

She was elected Editor of Bangladesh Bar Council Legal Division in 2003. She became a member of Bangladesh Nari Samaj (Women's Coalition) in 2007.

During the army-backed caretaker government in 2007-08, she was in the lawyers’ panel that represented Hasina in the cases filed against her.

In 2009, she was elected as a syndicate member of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University (BSMMU).

The International Affairs Secretary of the Awami League, she was elected MP from a parliament seat reserved for women on March 24, 2009.

The ‘Women Development Policy’ was passed in Parliament during her term as a State Minister.

She has a son and a daughter with Syed Ishtiaque Hossain who is a pharmaceutical consultant.