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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 May, 2004, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Bangladesh law boosts women MPs
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is one of the few women in parliament
The Bangladeshi parliament has amended its constitution to reserve 45 seats for women.

The women-only seats will raise the total number of MPs to 345 and will be selected in proportion to each party's support at the last election.

But the opposition, and some women's groups, had demanded that the new MPs be directly elected.

Both the prime minister and the opposition leader are women, but there are only a handful women MPs.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has promised to gradually increase the number of women in government.


Parliament approved the amendment by 226 votes to one, despite a continuing boycott of proceedings by the opposition.

The opposition Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina , accuses the ruling Bangladesh National Party of seeking to further increase its parliamentary majority.

Parliament is due to start a new session next month and the constitutional amendment will be valid for 10 years.

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