Female lawmakers yesterday walked out of Kenya’s parliament in solidarity with a colleague who was ordered to leave because she had taken her baby.
Zuleika Hassan said she had brought her five-month-old baby with her to work because of a domestic emergency and that parliament didn’t have a creche. According to the house rules, “strangers” are not allowed into the chamber, children included.
Some of her male colleagues described her actions as shameful. Speaker Christopher Omulele ordered Ms Hassan out of the chamber and said that she could return without the baby. Some MPs shouted and others started shoving each other.
Ms Hassan called on parliament to create a more “family-friendly atmosphere” if it wanted more women to become MPs. “I have tried really hard not to come with the baby, but today I had an emergency; what was I supposed to do? If parliament had a nursery or a creche, I would be able to put my baby there,” she said.
In 2017, Kenyan lawmakers passed a bill compelling employers to construct special rooms where mothers could breastfeed and change their babies. However parliament still doesn’t have such a facility. Ms Hassan’s supporters have condemned her treatment which comes during World Breastfeeding week.
Several female politicians around the world been pictured taking their babies to work. In 2018 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden was the first female world leader to take her baby, three-month-old Neve Te Aroha, to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Meanwhile, Kenyan parliamentarians have been criticised for wasting public funds by going on a United States trip estimated to cost $1m (£823,000), local Daily Nation newspaper reported. The 85 legislators and their staff are attending the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL) in Nashville, Tennessee.
The paper also said that the MPs who are accompanied by the speakers of both the National Assembly and Senate will earn between $630 and $725 in daily allowances.