Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sangsad gets first female Speaker

JS gets maiden female Speaker

Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury has been elected, unopposed, as the country’s first female Speaker by parliament yesterday.
She succeeds Abdul Hamid, who assumed the presidency on April 24 following the death of President Zillur Rahman.
At 47, Shirin becomes the youngest Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad in the country’s history. A total of 140 ruling Awami League-led grand alliance lawmakers and the lone independent lawmaker, who were present in the House, elected her by voice vote.
The lawmakers of the main opposition BNP were not present as they have been boycotting parliament since March last year.

Earlier on Monday night, the Awami League Parliamentary Party nominated Shirin as the Speaker candidate of the ruling party.
With Shirin elected as Speaker, four of the country’s top positions are now held by women. The others are Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia and Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury.
Assuming the office of Speaker, she will have to quit as state minister for women and children affairs.
Shirin was born on October 6, 1966. Her father Rafiqullah Chaudhury was personal secretary to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
A lawyer by profession and a human rights activist, she entered parliament for the first time in the incumbent parliament as an MP from one of the reserved seats for women.
The newly elected Speaker has had an outstanding academic career with a first class first in LLM, LLB from Dhaka University. Later she obtained PhD from Essex University in the United Kingdom.
Yesterday, immediately after the House resumed its session, acting speaker Col (retd) Shawkat Ali informed parliament that there was only one name for the post of Speaker.
Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui proposed the name of Shirin for the post. Awami League lawmaker and Whip Shagufta Yasmin supported the proposal.
Shawkat Ali put the resolution to a voice vote, which was passed by the House.
Following her election, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other MPs, including independent lawmaker Fazlul Azim, highly lauded the newly elected Speaker and hoped that she would run parliament effectively with wisdom and prudence.

President Abdul Hamid administered the oath of office to Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury at the oath taking room of the Jatiya Sangsad yesterday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury were present, among others.

President Abdul Hamid swears in the new Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban yesterday. Photo: PID

President Abdul Hamid swears in the new Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban yesterday. Photo: PID

In an instant reaction at her JS office room, Shirin said she was happy and felt honoured to be elected to the country’s third highest constitutional post.
She also called upon the opposition parties to join parliament to make the House more effective and functional.
“This [electing a female as Speaker] will be considered as an outstanding milestone in the empowerment of the country’s women,” she said.
She termed her taking office as Speaker a victory and an achievement of all women in the country.