The Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak has lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her humor, wit, and the role she has played as a leader while still making time to do everything that a loving mother and grandmother is supposed to do.
"This woman is a force," Dvorak's column reads as it narrates about Sheikh Hasina and her achievements and struggles. She took a one-on-one interview of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Ritz-Carlton in Northern Virginia during the premier's recent visit to the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
"We sat in a lovely room with her translator and chief of staff, plus a giant portrait of her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president of Bangladesh and former prime minister who was assassinated along with 17 other members of her family in 1975. It is his legacy she is upholding as the nation's prime minister for two terms, totaling 18 years so far," Dvorak said.
The hashtag #DespiteBeingAWoman was triggered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's praise for PM Sheikh Hasina in 2015 during the Indian premier's state visit to Bangladesh.
"I am happy that Bangladesh Prime Minister, despite being a woman, has declared zero tolerance for terrorism," Modi had said in a speech at Dhaka University.
That launched a viral meme and has endured as a point of pride for Sheikh Hasina.
"When I asked her about it, at first, she leaned over in a stage whisper: 'Women are better than men,' she said. And laughed," Dvorak wrote in her column.
The WP columnist asked PM Hasina during the interview how a prime minister finds time to be a regular grandma, to which the premier replied: "Chicken biryani … At my son's house, I have my own kitchen that's just for me."
"Besides being the longest-serving female head of government in the world, leading a nation with more people than Russia and surviving at least 20 assassination attempts — including an especially bloody attack of hand grenades thrown into the crowds around her — Hasina is a grandmother. So on her 76th birthday, she celebrated with her son and her 16-year-old granddaughter, who live in a suburb just outside the nation's capital," the column read.
"In the past decade, she's significantly reduced poverty in her country, expanded educational opportunities and changed housing," Dvorak wrote, adding, "Through health care and housing, Hasina said investing in the women of Bangladesh helped elevate the nation."