Kwale Woman Rep Zuleikha Hassan has been kicked out of parliament buildings by presiding speaker Luanda Member of Parliament Chris Omulele for walking into the building with her baby. The speaker said that parliament has provided sufficient breastfeeding facilities and that what happened was ‘unprecedented.
“This is my third baby in Parliament; I’ve never done this. I’ve tried really hard not to come with a baby but today I had an emergency so what was I supposed to do; miss parliament and my duties just because I have a baby? That’s why I came with her,” Zuleikha explained in her defence.
“I had an emergency; I have to come to work. We had two sessions today, the morning one and afternoon one. In 2013 the Parliamentary Service Commission asked if we should have a room, a crèche where we can put our babies, for breastfeeding, and stuff (sic) for members and other parliamentary staff. As you ask for more women to come into Parliament, you need to provide a family-friendly atmosphere at work. Other companies are doing it and the country’s parliament is not doing it, unfortunately … She (her daughter) is still breastfeeding and I’d like to breastfeed her for as long as I can,” she further added.
Incidents of legislators bringing children to parliament buildings have happened in other countries including Australia and New Zealand but never has it ever happened before in Kenya.
In Australia, in 2001, a member of the House of Representative, Anne Burk brought her baby who was under three-months-old into the chamber on two occasions with Senator Sarah Hanson-Young following suit in 2009 with her two-year-old child.
In September 2018, Jacinda Arden, New Zealand Prime minister, became the first world leader to attend the United Nations General Assembly with her baby.