In Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, female Members of Parliament have risen in a united front to denounce disparaging comments directed towards their colleague, nominated MP Sabina Chege. This public disapproval comes in the wake of contentious remarks made by Calvin Okoth, also known as Gaucho, the President of Bunge la Wananchi, during a session at the Jubilee National Delegates Conference held this past Monday.
Leading the chorus of protest, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gladys Shollei vowed to stand by Chege and strongly condemned the verbal attack. Representing a collective of women in Parliament, she denounced the derisive language aimed at Chege and expressed solidarity with her.
“As representatives of Kenyan women, we rally in support of Sabina Chege and outrightly reject the insulting language used against her,” said Shollei. She continued, “We have fought tirelessly to break free from entrenched stereotypes and backward ideologies that often serve as stumbling blocks for women in leadership.”
In a clear call to conscience, Shollei criticized the attendees of the conference who failed to check Gaucho’s disrespectful remarks. She voiced shock at these national figures, whom Kenyan women have admired for their solidarity, but who seemed unbothered by the incident, even publicly tolerating and seemingly endorsing such objectionable conduct.
Adding her voice to the defense, Karua, on Monday, sternly rebuked Gaucho for his offensive comments. She urged him not to critique leaders based on their physical attributes. “Such gender-based insults are inappropriate and could inadvertently cause offense to others present,” she warned.
Karua underscored the importance of mutual respect and consideration among leaders, advising that criticism, if necessary, should not target physical appearance, but the individual’s work and actions.
“We are leaders who abide by the law,” she emphasized. “A young man has disrespected a leader today, and it falls upon me to correct him. Regardless of the transgressions of others, whether a father or a mother, we must not resort to criticism based on their physical appearance but rather focus on their actions or work.”
Echoing a call for greater respect, Karua urged her fellow leaders to exercise caution and decorum when addressing each other.