Begum Khaleda Zia (Bengali: খালেদা জিয়া) is the former First Lady of Bangladesh (1977–1981), and then Prime Minister of Bangladesh, having served from 1991 to 1996, becoming the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim world (only after Ms Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan in 1988-1990) to head a democratic government as prime minister. She served again from 2001 until 2006. She is the widow of the President and former army chief Ziaur Rahman, who was assassinated in 1981, and leads his old party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Of the country's 39 years of independence, Mrs Zia has ruled Bangladesh for around 10 (being the longest-serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh). She has been elected to five separate parliamentary constituencies in the general elections of 1991, 1996 and 2001.
Forbes ranked Mrs Zia at number 29 in 2005 and number 33 in 2006 in its list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.
Khaleda Zia (Putul) was born on 15 August 1945 to Iskandar Majumder and Taiyaba Majumder in Birbhum district of West Bengal province, India and later migrated with her family to Dinajpur District. Khaleda Zia is the youngest in a family of four. She has two brothers, Major (Retd.) Sayeed Iskandar, a retired military official, and Shamim Iskander, an engineer of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, and two elder sisters, late Khurshid Jahan Hoq (Chocolate Aapa), former Women's Welfare Minister, and another sister who is deceased. The family originally hails from Fulgazi Upazila of Feni District, Bangladesh. She studied in Dinajpur Government Girls High School. In 1960, she married Ziaur Rahman. She is the current leader of the opposition party. She is also recognized as one of the stylish politicians.
Former president Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad made her husband Major General Ziaur Rahman Chief of Staff of Bangladesh Army after Assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who subsequently assumed power as Chief Martial Law Administrator following a series of military coups on and following National Revolution and Solidarity Day.
Until the assassination of her husband, Ziaur Rahman, in an abortive military coup in Chittagong on 30 May 1981, Khaleda Zia had taken little interest in either politics or public life. Even when her husband assumed power after the political changes in 1975, she remained a shy and withdrawn housewife spending most of her time raising her two sons, Tarique Rahman(Pino) and Arafat Rahman (Coco).
After the assassination of Ziaur Rahman, Vice-President Justice Abdus Sattar took over as the Acting President and also as Chairman of the BNP. Chief of Staff of Bangladesh Army Lieutenant General Hossain Mohammad Ershad overthrew Justice Sattar on March 24, 1982.
In March 1983, Justice Sattar appointed Khaleda Zia as vice-chairman of the BNP. In February 1984, she became the chairperson as Justice Sattar retired from politics. On August 10, 1984 the party elected her the chairperson.
Under the leadership of Begum Zia, the BNP formed a seven-party alliance in 1983 and launched a relentless struggle against the autocratic regime of Lieutenant General Hussain Mohammad Ershad. During the 9-year-long struggle against Ershad, Begum Zia did not compromise with his autocratic and illegitimate government. For her strict adherence to the principles, the government restricted her movements by using prohibitive laws. She was detained seven times in eight years. But undaunted, Begum Zia continued to provide leadership in the movement for ousting Ershad. Like Zia before him, Ershad attempted to give his rule a civilian and democratic face, but Khaleda Zia boycotted all elections during his rule. Khaleda was detained seven times during almost nine years of autocratic rule under President Ershad before his resignation on 6 December 1990.
In the face of a mass upsurge spearheaded by alliances led by Begum Zia and Sheikh Hasina, President Ershad at last handed over power to a neutral caretaker government on 6 December 1990. In the parliamentary elections held under this government on 27 February 1991, Bangladesh Nationalist Party emerged victorious as a single majority party. Begum Zia contested from five constituencies in three consecutive parliamentary elections and won in all seats. This is a unique feat in the history of elections in the country.
From : www.wikipedia.com