haleda Zia was born to Iskandar
Majumder, a businessman, and Taiyaba Majumder at Dinajpur District on 5th August, 1944.
In 1960, she got married to Ziaur Rahman of Bogra,
then a captain in the Pakistan Army. Her husband, one of the
prominent heroes of the country's Liberation War, later became
the president of Bangladesh and formed the Bangladesh Nationalist
Party (BNP). In 1965 she went to join her husband in West Pakistan.
Until the assassination of President Ziaur Rahman in an
abortive military putsch in Chittagong on May 30, 1981, Khaleda
Zia had taken little interest in either politics or public
life. Even when her husband was propelled to power after the
political changes in 1975, she remained a shy and withdrawn
housewife who devoted most of her time rearing up her two
In March 1983, Justice Abdus Sattar, the then acting president
and chairman BNP, appointed Khaleda Zia a vice-chairman of
the BNP. On February 1984, she became the chairperson as Justice
Sattar retired from politics. On August 10 the same year,
the party elected her the chairperson.
Khaleda was detained seven times during almost nine years
of autocratic rule of Hosain Ershad. In the face of a mass upsurge spearheaded by alliances led by Begum Zia
and Sheikh Hasina, Ershad at last handed over power to a neutral caretaker government on December 6, 1990.
In 1991, she became the country's first woman prime minister
after a free and fair general election on February 27, 1991
and formed the government. She has been elected as a member of the Parliament from the constituencies
She became Prime Minister for the second consecutive term after the BNP had a landslide victory in February 15, 1996 general election to the sixth Jatiya Sangsad. The election was, however, boycotted by all other major parties who were demanding that the elections be held under a neutral caretaker government, following allegations of rigging in a by-election held in 1994. Turnout was estimated at around 25%, though the government at the time claimed it to be much higher. The short-lived parliament hastily introduced the Caretaker Government through 13th amendment to the Constitution, and then was dissolved to pave the way for the parliamentary elections. In the June 12, 1996 polls.
In the June 12, 1996 parliamentary elections, the BNP lost
to the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina.
When in power (1991-96), the government of Khaleda made considerable
progress in the education sector, introducing compulsory free
primary education, free education of girls up to class ten,
stipend for the girl students and food for education programme.
It also increased the age-limit for entry to government services
from 27 years to 30 years and provided highest budgetary allocation
in the education sector.
Aiming to return to power, the BNP formed a four-party opposition
alliance on January 6, 1999 with the Jatiya Party, the Jamaat-e-Islami
and the Islami Oikya Jote and launched several agitation programmes
against the ruling AL. Khaleda Zia, like Ziaur Rahman has been criticized much for making alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami, the party which opposed the independence of Bangladesh in 1971 and formed Razakar, Al-Badar and Al-Shams team to help West Pakistan to kill thousands of innocent people including the intellectuals of Bangladesh. Around 3 million people were killed by West Pakistan army with the help of Razakars, Al-Badars and Al-Shams in 1971 within 9 months of war.
The alliance then participated in the October 1, 2001 general
election and won the polls with two-thirds majority. Khaleda
Zia has been elected as a Member of the Parliament from 2
constituencies of Bogra 6 and 7. On October 10, 2001 Khaleda
Zia, Chairperson of BNP, was sworn as Prime Minister of Bangladesh.