How our elected leaders dress has probably never crossed your mind. As long as they pass bills and make decisions they best see fit, right? Recent events prove there’s more to the position of government I’m almost certain you don’t know the function of.
The Senate is one of the two Houses of the Parliament of Kenya, along with the National Assembly, and has 67 members.
Their function is to represent the interests of the counties and their governments, participate in law-making by considering, debating, and approving bills concerning counties, and determines the allocation of national revenue among counties. All the while, when appropriately dressed.
During a sitting on Monday, two female members of the senate were thrown out for inappropriate dressing. Senators Karen Nyamu and Gloria Orwoba were asked to leave an ongoing sitting and instructed not to return until they dressed properly.
Karen Nyamu was dressed in a long kitenge skirt and a sleeveless black blouse that left her arms bare. Senator Amason Kingi read out the Speaker’s Rule number 5 which states: “Senators are required not to enter the chamber, lounge or dining room without being properly dressed.”
This means a male Senator will be dressed in a coat, collar, tie, long trousers, socks and shoes or service uniform, religious attire or such other decent dressing as may be approved by the speaker from time to time… An equivalent standard shall apply in respect of women senators who may also wear kitenges or such other African attire,” said Speaker Kingi.
Senator Orwoba was on the other hand asked to leave for the same reason but different circumstance. Orwoba had attended the session in a white blazer, green top, and a matching white trouser that was however had a pinkish stain.
She claimed to be on her period, describing the stain as the result of “a natural accident.” The issue was raised ironically by Tabitha Mutinda, who claimed was disturbed as a woman and as a senator.
Orwoba went ahead to accuse her fellow Senators of subjecting her to period stigma, which she says affects many young women in the country.
She was however not permanently ejected from the Senate session, as Speaker Kingi merely asked her to leave the chambers to go and change her outfit and then return in one that was not stained.
The senator is due to table a motion on a bill to provide free sanitary pads today as part of efforts to end period poverty. What a way to make a statement!
BY NKATHA WAINAINA