Female MPs have walked out of Kenya’s parliament in solidarity with a colleague who was ordered to leave because she had taken her baby.
NAIROBI, Kenya – The Kenyan parliament has made history as the first parliament in history to openly frown on accommodating working mothers when the speaker ordered one of its members Zuleika Hassan, an MP with a baby to leave parliament.
Zuleika Hassan said she took her five-month-old baby with her to work because of a domestic emergency.
According to the parliamentary rules, “strangers” are not allowed into the chamber, children included.
As the speaker ordered the working mother out of session, some of her male colleagues described her actions as shameful.
According to sources, Speaker Christopher Omulele ordered Ms. Hassan out of the chamber and said that she could return without the baby.
Meanwhile, Ms. Hassan urged her colleagues in parliament to create a more “family-friendly atmosphere” if it wanted more women to become MPs.
“I have tried 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 crèche, I would be able to put my baby there,” she said.
However, the deputy speaker of Parliament Moses Cheboi said in a statement that there is a facility in parliament for mothers to nurse their babies.
He said mothers have to “bring along their nannies to watch over the babies at the facility while they undertake their official duties.”
In 2017, Kenyan lawmakers passed a bill compelling employers to construct unique rooms where mothers could breastfeed and change their babies.
Meanwhile, supporters of Ms. Hassan have condemned the action of parliament, especially during the week of World Breastfeeding.
Ms. Hassan is not the first high profile female official to take her baby to work. 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.