Bangladesh Parliament gets first woman speaker

May 1, 2013 at 12:40 AM

DHAKA, Bangladesh, May 1 (UPI) -- Parliament in Muslim-majority Bangladesh got its first woman speaker with the election of Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, 47, a lawyer who was unopposed.

As speaker, Chaudhury, currently state minister for women and children affairs, will succeed Abdul Hamid, who became Bangladesh president this month following the death of Zillur Rahman.

Chaudhury was elected Tuesday by voice vote by the Awami League-led alliance, the Daily Star reported. Lawmakers from the main opposition Bangladesh National Party, who have been boycotting Parliament, were not present during the voting.

With Chaudhury's election, there will be four women holding top political posts in the country, the newspaper said. The other three are Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, opposition leader Khaleda Zia and Deputy House Leader Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury.

The new speaker's father, Rafiqullah Chaudhury, was personal secretary to the late Sheik Mujibur Rahman, founder of Bangladesh, once the eastern wing of Pakistan, which became independent in 1971.

The Star report said Chaudhury, who is also a human rights activist, got her law degree from Dhaka University and later earned her doctorate degree from Essex University in the United Kingdom.

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