BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC

Allow breastfeeding at work, but not in Bunge

In Summary

• Last year an Australian senator breastfed her baby while Parliament was in session.

• The Kenya constitution guarantees non-discrimination against pregnant women.

A screen grab showing Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan being led out of the House chambers by the sergeant-at-arms after she walked in chamber with a baby. Image: COURTESY
A screen grab showing Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan being led out of the House chambers by the sergeant-at-arms after she walked in chamber with a baby. Image: COURTESY

Yesterday Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan entered the National Assembly with her newborn baby. She was soon ejected by the order of the Speaker Aden Duale (see P7).

She was making the point that this is World Breastfeeding Week yet the parliament does not allow breastfeeding mothers in the assembly. 

Duale later clarified that Parliament has a nursery where mothers can breastfeed and leave their children.

 

So who is right and who is wrong here?

Many countries give mothers the right to breastfeed their children at work and allow breastfeeding in public. In Australia last year, a senator made history by breastfeeding a child in Parliament.

Kenya's progressive Constitution guarantees the right to health and stops discrimination against pregnant women. Kenyans are allowed to breastfeed at work and wasn't Zulekha at work?

Conversely, debate in the National Assembly should proceed with dignity and decorum. Strangers are not allowed on the floor of the House so should a baby be allowed in? Probably not.

Zulekha did well to highlight the issues of breastfeeding mothers. But it is not yet time for Kenya to allow breastfeeding MPs onto the floor of the House.

Quote of the day: "Nothing is as seductive as the assurance of success."

Gertrude Himmelfarb
The American historian was born on August 8, 1922