Women lawmakers may be directly elected in Bangladesh

February 15th, 2009 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 15 (IANS) Women lawmakers in Bangladesh would be directly elected following an amendment to its Constitution, the Sheikh Hasina Government has announced.

The change would facilitate holding of direct elections to seats reserved for women in the Jatiya Sangsad (national assembly) in the next parliamentary polls, Local Government and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam said Saturday.

“We shall amend the constitution to allow women to come to the house through direct elections from the next parliamentary polls,” The Daily Star quoted the minister as saying.

Bangladesh has adopted the Westminster-style parliamentary system wherein 300 people are directly elected.

Once the house is constituted, it elects 45 women members to underscore the role women play in Bangladesh’s public life.

The past experience has been that the party or parties in government end up getting a majority of the women’s seats, thus bolstering their strength.

Now parliament has 45 reserved seats for women who are elected by the lawmakers. The AL will get 35 seats and the others the rest in proportion to their respective strengths in parliament.

Media reports say there has been intense lobbying for the reserved seats. Aspirants include those who lost in last December’s poll, party high-ups, leaders of parties’ front bodies and NGOs.

Islam said the issue of staging direct election to reserved seats for women in parliament is included in the party’s election manifesto.

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