Mrs. Heptulla

Mrs. Najma Heptulla (India) was elected President of the Inter-Parliamentary Council on 16 October 1999 at the Council's 165th session in Berlin. Her term came to and end on 27 September 2002 at the time of the Council's 171st session, which conferred on Mrs. Heptulla the title of the Honorary President of the IPU Council.

CURRICULUM VITAE of Mrs. Najma Heptulla

Born on 13 April 1940, Mrs. Heptulla has held the office of Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Parliament of India) from January 1985 to January 1986 and from 1988 to the present.

She has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union since 1995 and Vice-President of that body since 1999, as well as the acting President of the IPU Council from 15 July 1999 till 16 October 1999 when she was elected as President of the IPU Council. Within the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mrs. Heptulla chaired the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians in 1993 and has been a member of the Co-ordinating Committee of that body since that date. She was further Vice-President of the Specialised IPU Conference on "Towards Partnership between Men and Women in Politics", held in New Delhi in 1997. She is a member of the Union's Gender Partnership Group, set up in 1997.

Mrs. Heptulla also participates actively in the work of the United Nations. She is Founder President of the Parliamentarians' Forum for Human Development, established in 1993 and sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Mrs. Heptulla is also a Distinguished Human Development Ambassador for UNDP. She has further attended several sessions of the UN General Assembly and its Committees as a member of the Indian delegation.

Mrs. Heptulla presided over the Conference of Women Parliamentarians of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in New Delhi in 1992. In 1987, she became the first woman elected Vice-President of the Executive Committee of that body.

Mrs. Heptulla has always been interested in women's issues. She headed the Indian delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 1997 and played an active part in the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995). President since 1985 of the Indian Housewives' Federation, she has organised over a hundred seminars and several national-level meetings for identifying and redressing women's problems. She is a member of the Maharashtra State Government Committee for the Status of Women, and was a special invitee at the World Women's Forum (Harvard, 1997).

Mrs. Heptulla has held various political posts in India. In particular, she served as General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (I) in 1986-87 and Spokesperson for that same Party from 1986-87 and 1998. Mrs. Heptulla is a member of the National Integration Council and a member of the General Body and Executive Committee of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

As Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India to the following countries, she has travelled to the following countries: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Fiji.

Mrs. Heptulla is President of the Azad Foundation for Research and Development, President of the Indo-Arab Society, Member of the Board of Trustees of the India Islamic Cultural Centre, and a Member of the Bombay City Social Education Committee.

Activities within the Inter-Parliamentary Union:

  • President of the IPU Council from October 1999 to September 2002
  • Vice-President (since 1999) and a Member of the Executive Committee since 1995
  • Member of the Preparatory Committee of the Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments, to be held in connection with the Millennium 2000 Session of the UN General Assembly
  • Member of the Co-ordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians since 1993
  • Member of the Gender Partnership Group since 1997
  • Chairperson of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians in 1993
  • Focal Point for questions relating to the status of women
  • Member of the IPU-UNAIDS Working Group on the drafting of a Handbook on HIV/AIDS for MPs
  • Former President of IPU's Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
  • Participates regularly in the Union's statutory and specialised conferences, as a member or leader of the Indian delegation.


  • AIDS : Approaches to Prevention, 1996.
  • Human Social Security and Sustainable Development, 1995.
  • Environmental Protection in Developing Countries, 1993.
  • Reforms for Women : Future Options, 1992.
  • Indo-West Asian Relations - the Nehru Era, 1992.

Mrs. Heptulla earned an M.Sc. (Zoology) in 1960, First Division, First in the University. At the age of 22, she obtained a doctoral degree in Cardiac Anatomy.

Mrs. Heptulla is married and has three daughters.

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