Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and prime minister of Bangladesh for a record fourth term, has turned 75.
The eldest among Bangabandhu and Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib’s five children, Hasina was born at Tungipara in Gopalganj on Sept 28, 1947.
In a message wishing the prime minister long life and sound health, President Md Abdul Hamid recalled the hurdles she had to overcome, despite being the daughter of the Father of the Nation.
Hasina lost almost all of her family members on Aug 15, 1975, but she and her sister Sheikh Rehana escaped the carnage as they were abroad at the time.
Barred from entering Bangladesh for a long time, Hasina was elected president of the Awami League in absentia in February 1981. She returned home on May 17 the same year.
She spearheaded the Awami League's successful campaign along with other political parties and alliances to restore democracy in 1990.
After the Awami League’s victory in the 1996 elections, she catapulted the party to power again after the 2007-08 military-controlled government.
Since being elected head of the government for the second time in 2008, she has been spending her birthday in the United States almost every year as it coincides with the United Nations General Assembly.
This year at the UN, Hasina has urged world leaders to stop the Russia-Ukraine war and sanctions over the conflict. She called for measures to ensure food security and build peace, highlighting the perils of people, especially women and children in developing and poor nations.
The ruling Awami League and its affiliates have announced a series of programmes to celebrate her birthday.
Her son and ICT affairs adviser, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, greeted his mother with a video posted on Facebook about Bangladesh’s achievements on her watch. “She is taking Bangladesh forward; the people of the country are seeing the dream of improving their quality of life; she is working relentlessly for the people; she has made the dream of Digital Bangladesh come true,” he wrote.
Hasina married nuclear scientist MA Wazed Miah in 1968. They have another child: Saima Wazed Hossain, nicknamed Putul, who is a globally recognised autism expert.
The Awami League has formed government four times with Hasina as prime minister. This is her unprecedented third consecutive term as the head of government.
She launched her political career when she was a student of Eden Women's College in the 1960s. She was elected vice-president of the Eden College Students' Union in 1966-67 as a Chhatra League candidate.
She was general secretary of the Chhatra League's Rokeya Hall unit while being a student of Dhaka University.
During the Liberation War in 1971, she was in captivity along with her mother, sister Rehana, and youngest brother Sheikh Russel.
Hamid said under Hasina’s dynamic leadership, Bangladesh has achieved the eligibility to graduate to the status of a developing nation from the list of least developed countries.
As a result of “her bravery, strong action and timely decision-making”, he said, the long-cherished Padma Bridge, built with Bangladesh’s own funding, stands today “as a symbol of the nation's pride”.