Representation of women as well as the minorities has been reduced by nearly half in the present Council of Ministers.

The percentage has come down to 8.33 in the present Council of Ministers of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, from 16.28 in that of her predecessor Sheikh Hasina Wajed.

Apart from Khaleda, the 60-member Council of Ministers, the largest ever of its kind in the country, has only two other women and two members from the minorities. Hasina's 43-strong Council of Ministers had three women besides her, and three minorities.

Women's representation has now come down to five per cent from the previous 9.30 per cent in the Council of Ministers headed by Hasina.

The percentage of the minorities is 3.33 this time, down from 6.98 of last time. Besides, the ministers in these two categories have also been given less important portfolios.

Hasina picked two women cabinet ministers, namely Sajeda Choudhury and Motia Choudhury, and a state minister, Zinnatunnessa Talukdar. And all of them ran important ministries.

Sajeda held the Ministry of Forest and Environment while Motia ran two ministries, Food and Agriculture, for most of the time. However, she was later relieved of the food portfolio.

Zinnatunnessa was first given charge of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education and then the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.

Khaleda has inducted her elder sister, Khurshid Jahan Haq, the only woman minister, into her cabinet, giving her the women and children portfolio. State Minister Selima Rahman has been given charge of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Ministers belonging to the minority community have also been given less important portfolios.

Hasina's Cabinet had two full ministers representing the minorities, Satish Chandra Roy and Kalparanjan Chakma, who ran their ministries independently.

Roy first managed the fisheries and livestock ministry and then the primary and mass education ministry, while Chakma was in charge of the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Affairs.