Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury
Hon’ble Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament
By: Tauhidul Islam Apu
Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was born on October 6, 1966, who is the current and the first woman Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad since April 2013. At 46 years of age, she is the youngest to assume the office. She was also the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association between 2014 and 2017. She previously served as the state minister of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs of Bangladesh.
Father Late Rafiqullah Chaudhury Former (CSP). Former Secretary to the Prime Minister Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1972). Her Mother Late Professor Naiyar Sultana Former Member, Bangladesh Public Service Commission.
Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was born on 6 October 1966 in Chatkhil thana of Noakhali, Bangladesh. Her father, Rafiqullah Chaudhury, was a Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) officer and Secretary to the Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972. Her mother, Naiyar Sultana, was a member of Bangladesh Public Service Commission and the principal of Dhaka College.
Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury completed her SSC and HSC exams respectively in 1983 and 1985 from Holy Cross Girls’ School and College. To study law she joined University of Dhaka and earned her LLB and LLM degrees in 1989 and 1990. She received a Commonwealth scholarship to study at the University of Essex in the UK. In 2000 she earned her Ph.D. degree in constitutional law and human rights.
On 16 July 2014, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury received an Honorary Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) from University of Essex.
Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in Aid for Gender Equality, 2013
Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, the International Affairs Secretary of the Awami League, was elected MP from one of the parliamentary seats reserved for women on 24 March 2009 and was State Minister of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (Bangladesh) until her nomination for Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad in April 2013.
Chaudhury was awarded Asia Society’s Humanitarian Service Award on June 9, 2010, in recognition of her role as a leader in advocating the elimination of violence against women and main streaming women’s empowerment and employment in Bangladesh. Chaudhury received this award from Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the US Ambassador at Large, Global Women Issues in a gala award ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington DC.
On January 28, 20140Chaudhury was elected MP from the Rangpur-6 constituency that had been vacated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. After the January 5 election Chaudhury was uncontested in the by-elections and was nominated for Speaker by Awami League the very same day. She took oath as the Speaker of the 10th Parliament on January 19, 2014, becoming the first person to remain Speaker across two consecutive tenures.
Chaudhury was elected Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) for the next three years. She was the first Bangladeshi to hold this position, as well as any position in an international forum of this level. Bangladesh has been a member of the CPA Asia region, the biggest parliamentary forum of the world since 1973. She competes for the post of CPA chairperson for the first time in 2014.
In her role as CPA Chairperson between 2014 and 2017, Chaudhury has both attended and presided over a number of landmark events. On Monday, March 9, 2015, she addressed an audience including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, members of the royal family and British and Commonwealth dignitaries at an Observance for Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey in London, UK. She also opened the 46th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Africa Region Conference held in Nairobi, Africa between 10 and 13 August 2015. Chaudhury participated as a panel speaker in the “Tackling inequality, empowering women and girls and leaving no one behind” Interactive Dialogue Session at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit held in New York yesterday, 25 September 2015. As Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament, she has participated in a number of successful bilaterals, most notably with Indian and Chinese officials, including the Indian Prime Minister, President and Speaker, the Chinese President, Vice President and Chairman of the National People’s Congress.
Chaudhury has also been honoured with Women Leadership Achievement Award at the 2nd World Women Leadership Congress and Award (WWLCA) 2015. Addressing a seminar ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Dr Chaudhury called for integrating women in the mainstream of development. She said the women community and all others would have to work together to face the challenges on the way of establishing women leadership across the world. Along with the government, all non-government and corporate agencies would have to work together to establish gender parity in society.
She was a practising advocate of the Bangladesh Supreme Court and was one of the members of the lawyers’ panel to conduct the cases filed against Sheikh Hasina during the army-backed caretaker government in 2007-08. Her key areas of work include human rights, constitutional law, gender issues and judicial reviews by way of writs. She is a Resource Person for several institutions including the University of Dhaka, BRAC University, Dhaka International University and Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs.
Chaudhury is married to Syed Ishtiaque Hossain, a pharmaceutical consultant. She has a daughter, Lamisa (24) and a son, Ibtesham (15).
Chaudhury served as an editor of Bangladesh Legal Decisions (BLD), Law Report Series published every month by Bangladesh Bar Council from 2003 to 2008. She has developed several dialogue and concept papers with various relevant NGO’s and Human Rights organizations on human rights issues. Her published articles include:
Role of the Judiciary in the Development of Human Rights, published in 1999, published by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK)
The Least Dangerous Branch and the Power of Judicial Review: Impact on the Development of Fundamental Human Rights, published in 2000, published by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK)
Right to Life and Its Dimensions published in 2000. Published by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK)
The practice of Democracy: Importance of Free and Fair Election in Bangladesh presented as Key Note paper in a Seminar organized by Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA), Bangladesh Heritage Foundation
Electoral Rights: Bangladesh Perspective, Conference Report on Human Rights and Governance, Local and Global Perspective.
Regional Position Paper on Status of Women in South Asia written for SAAPE as Regional Thematic Focal Person from Bangladesh.