Kwale Woman Representative Zuleikha Juma Hassan says she has no regrets entering the debating Chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday with her new born baby girl.
The Chamber is only reserved for 349 elected and nominated members, the Speaker, three clerks and, of course, the sergeant-at-arms.
Ms Hassan argues that hers was a case of agitating for the issues affecting women, especially the employed, who lack basic amenities like crèches at their work places so that they can attend to their children, including by breastfeeding, whenever needed.
“I had to plan how to drive my point home and, sure enough, it was a success,” Ms Hassan says.
She went ahead adding that,
“I said this is enough. Why should I miss work just because I have a baby? This made me reflect that if I don’t do it now, I should forget about it altogether,” she says adding, “I called my hubby and explained to him and he gave me the go-ahead.”
That Wednesday morning, she dressed her baby and set off to work.
“My official car was in Kwale at the time and I decided to take a cab to Bunge,” Ms Hassan said.
With the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) policy on facilitation for lactating MPs and staff of Parliament in place, passing through the heavily guarded gates of Parliament buildings was not a problem.
She later sneaked into the Chambers through the rear entrance, past an absent-minded orderly.
“He tried to block me but it was very late. I was already in the Chamber by the time he was pleading. I went straight to the front row where I wanted the Speaker to notice me easily and started breastfeeding my little angel.”
At the time, temporary Speaker Christopher Omulele (Luanda) was on the chair.
“The orderlies came to me in their numbers and requested that I give them the baby. But I told them the baby would cry,” she says.
Mr Omulele later ordered her to leave the Chamber immediately, a thing she terms harsh.
“I believe if it were Mr Muturi, he would have allowed time for other members to have a say on the incident,” she says.
After making her point, she went straight to her house. Later that day, the management of Parliament ordered for the hurried refurbishment of the nursery at Continental House, where MPs have offices. By the end of the day, the room was fully equipped with cots and toys, among other baby items.