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B'desh set to elect first woman parliament speaker

world Updated: May 01, 2013 15:57 IST

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Bangladesh is set to elect its first woman parliament speaker as the ruling Awami League nominated Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury for the top post.

A lawyer by profession, the state minister for Women and Children Affairs came in limelight when she stood for Awami League president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a defence lawyer while she was undergoing trial on several charges during the past military-backed interm government.

The Awami League Parliamentary Party Monday night announced her nomination, days after speaker Abdul Hamid took oath as the President relinquishing the chair in parliament.

The nomination of Chowdhury, who is in her mid 40s, meant her election is all but guaranteed even if the polls are contested by the opposition in the house where Awami League has three-fourth majority.

Her nomination surprised political experts as Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali, an Independence Movement veteran having a background in army, was currently discharging duties as the Acting Speaker.

Chowdhury, the International Affairs Secretary of the Awami League, was elected MP from one of the parliamentary seats reserved for women in March 2009.

Her father Rafiqullah Chowdhury was a personal secretary and a close associate of Bangladesh's founder and former prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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

Chowdhury is blessed with a son and a daughter with Syed Ishtiaque Hossain, a pharmaceutical consultant.