SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, was born on 28 September, 1947 at Tungipara under Gopalganj district. She is the eldest of five children of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of independent Bangladesh.
She graduated from the University of Dhaka in 1973. She was elected Vice President of the Students Union of Government Intermediate Girl’s College. She was a member of the students League Unit of Dhaka University and Secretary of the Students League Unit of Rokeya Hall. She actively participated in all the mass movements since her student life.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with the members of his family was martyred on the fateful night of 15 August 1975. Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana were the only survivors as they were in West Germany at that time. Later she went to the United Kingdom from where she started her movement against the autocratic rule in 1980. Sheikh Hasina was unanimously elected President of Bangladesh Awami League in 1981 in her absence, while she was forced to live in exile in New Delhi. Ending six years in exile, she returned home finally on 17 May 1981.
In the parliamentary election held in 1986, she won three seats. She was elected Leader of the Opposition. She led the historic mass movement in 1990 and announced the constitutional formula for peaceful transfer of power through Articles 51 and 56 of the Constitution.
Following the election of 1991 Sheikh Hasina became Leader of the Opposition in the country’s Fifth Parliament, She steered all the political parties in the parliament towards changing the Presidential system into the Parliamentary one.
Sheikh Hasina created awareness among the people and waged a struggle for Non-party Caretaker Government to ensure free and fair polls. Her movement reached the peak after a non-cooperation movement in March 1996 and the provision for Non-party Caretaker Government was incorporated in the Constitution.
At the call of Sheikh Hasina a large number of people of all walks of life expressed solidarity with the movement at the ‘Janatar Mancha’. In the Parliamentary election held on 12 June 1996, Bangladesh Awami League emerged as the majority party and she assumed the office of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on 23 June 1996.
After becoming the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina adopted a number of pragmatic policies for overall development of the nation including poverty alleviation. During the last four years her government achieved laudable success including signing of the historic 30 year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty with India, signing of historic peace Accord on Chittagong Hill Tracts and inauguration of the Bangabandhu Bridge on the river Jamuna.
Sheikh Hasina was conferred Degree of Doctor of Law by the Boston University of the USA on 6 February 1997 and Honorary Doctor of Law by the Waseda University of Japan on 4 July 1997. She was also conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Liberal Arts by University of Abertay Dundee of the United Kingdom on 25 October, 1997. She was conferred Honorary Degree of Desikottama (Doctor of Literature, honoris causa) by Visva-Bharati University of West Bengal, India on 28 January 1999. She was also conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on the ground of her distinguished creative contributions in the service of society by the Australian National University on 20 October 1999. Dhaka University conferred Honorary ‘Doctor of Laws’ degree to Sheikh Hasina on 18 December, 1999 for her outstanding contribution towards peace and democracy. The World famous Catholic University of Brussels, Belgium conferred Honorary Doctorate degree (Doctor Honoris Causa) on Sheikh Hasina on 04 February, 2000 for her decisive role in establishing democracy, protecting human rights and peace. Sheikh Hasina has been conferred Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the Bridgeport University, USA on 5 September, 2000.
Sheikh Hasina has been awarded UNESCO’s Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize for 1998 for her remarkable contribution to bringing peace through ending the 25 years of conflict in Chittagong Hill Tracts with political courage and statesmanship.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received prestigious Pearl S. Buck Award ’99 on 9 April 2000 in recognition of her vision, courage, achievements in political, economic and humanitarian fields by Randolph Macon Women’s College of USA. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been awarded the prestigious CERES’ medal to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in recognition to her fight against hunger on 02 August, 1999. The All India Peace Council awarded her ‘Mother Teresa Award’ in 1998. The Mahatma M K Gandhi Foundation of Oslo, Norway awarded Sheikh Hasina ‘M K Gandhi Award’ for 1998 for her contribution towards promotion of communal understanding, non violent religions harmony and growth of democracy at the level of grassroots in Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina was named Paul Haris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. She was also given Medal of Distinction in 1996-97 and 1998-99 and Head of State Medal in 1996-97 by the International Association of Lions Clubs.
Sheikh Hasina is the Chairperson of “The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Trust”. She has been helping a lot of poor boys and girls for their education.