She is the daughter of the late Babu Jagjivan Ram, a prominent Dalit leader and former deputy prime minister of India. She did her M.A., LL.B, Educated at Indraprastha College and Miranda House, Delhi University.
In 1973, she joined the Indian Foreign Service and served at embassies in Spain, United Kingdom and Mauritius. She also served as a member of the India-Mauritius Joint Commission. While serving for IFS, she also worked in Embassy of India, Madrid from 1976 to 1977. She was at the High Commission of India in London from 1977 to 1979 and at Ministry of External Affairs from 1980 to 1985.
Meira Kumar entered electoral politics in 1985 and was elected from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. Prior to being a member of the 15th Lok Sabha, she has been elected earlier to the 8th, 11th, 12th and 14th Lok Sabha, wherein she remained Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (2004-2009). In 2009 she was briefly inducted as member of the cabinet as Union Minister for Water Resources. On being nominated for the position of speaker, she submitted her resignation three days after assuming ministerial office. She was elected the Speaker of Lok Sabha, thereby becoming the first woman speaker of the country.
According to the BBC, her nomination as Speaker by Congress helps the party position itself as pro-women and a party that is concerned about the welfare of the lower castes.
The posts of president and leader of the country’s governing Congress party are both held by women – by Pratibha Patil and Sonia Gandhi respectively.