The Speaker for the East African Legislative Assembly, Ms Margaret Zziwa raised the concern at the ongoing Regional Workshop for EALA Women Members of Parliament and Chairpersons of the Women Parliamentary Caucus taking place in Arusha.
"During the Second (EALA) Assembly we had three Members giving birth to beautiful babies, but there was no provision for maternity leave, it is not bearable (I think of) but it is also not known to be granted," pointed out the speaker.
"During their pregnancy periods, there was no consideration for the facilities that would make their work more comfortable (for example: no air-ticket for the baby sitter as an 'aide').
Indeed, one of them had to endure a 200 kilometres drive to go for a public hearing session on a bus!" stated Ms Zziwa.
According to the EALA speaker, in another case an aircraft's pilot refused to take off until that 'woman with a big stomach' is offloaded or her doctor is also brought on board!' "One may say that we are mature women, able to take care of our needs but every time we register more members from the youth bracket. So concerns are likely to increase," maintained the EALA's first female speaker.
Ms Zziwa was also generous to her male subjects by adding that: "What about paternal leave? Don't you think with our nature of work, there are times when a father of a new born baby needs to stay home to support the mother until she is out of danger?"
She then added that in most cases, the Member will join the rest of the Committee outside his home Partner State perhaps out of the need to get a per diem! "But what about our staff, are these concerns addressed?"
The speaker reminded that as women, they were the loudest advocates on the anti HIV campaigns, and EAC has indeed supported the legal framework on HIV and AIDs but when it comes to simple things which can be HIV AIDS fight compliant, they are likely to be absent.
"Take, for example, the health insurance package we have, does it cater for the HIV conditions? How do we stand when it comes to the policy on condom use? In many international organizations' lavatories, you will find a condom dispenser but the one at EALA women or even men lavatories collapsed long ago! Are we practicing what we preach?"
She also wanted to know about the provision of other amenities, saying members were asking whether the facilities at the EALA chambers were adequate enough. "You should appreciate that the women lavatories take the whole person whilst those for men have a couple of urinals.
With the growing number of women, how adequate are our toilets?" she queried. Ms Nivatiti Nandijja from the East African Sub-Region Support Initiative for Advancement of Women (EASSI) called for safe working environment for EALA members, saying the value of such female representatives declined with every house sessions.
"Outside office the women are exposed to all sorts of dangerous situations on their way back home without hoping for any form of protection of compensation under such threatening situations," she pointed out.