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They scratched our palms, judge recalls first-time experience in male-dominated parliament

Lady Justice Njoki Ndung’u stated that everyone, including women, are entitled to senior positions in government/COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – Supreme Court Judge Njoki Ndung’u has urged women to fight vigorously for top posts while recounting challenges she faced in parliament including indecent hand scratching by male colleagues when she joined parliament as a National Rainbow Coalition-nominated lawmaker in 2003.

“Like when I first came to Parliament, I felt like I was a girl in a boys secondary school. All manner of things used to happen. Cecily Mbarire and I suffered from a lot of scratching. I do not know if you know what scratching is. Scratching is the handshake and a little of scratching at the palm,” she told a meeting convened in Nairobi on Thursday ahead of International Women’s Day commemoration set for this Sunday.

Justice Ndung’u stated that everyone, including women, are entitled to senior positions in government.

“When we demand our rights, particularly in public office, we demand because we are 50 percent of the population. We demand because we pay taxes and we need to know how those taxes are being used. We demand what is due to us and we should never put ourselves in a position where we appear to be begging,” Ndung’u said.

“I have not said who used to scratch, but there were many scratchers back then. Women MPs, I hope nowadays there is no scratching here.”

She noted that women in political positions face many challenges including sexual harassment from their male colleagues.

Her sentiments were echoed by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula who pointed out that women have proven ability to thrive in a male-dominated society.

“I salute those women who wrestled with men in 2017 elections and made it to Parliament. No one else would fight your fight as effectively as you would yourself. Once you demonstrate the ability and the willingness to fight, then those of us who would support and cheer your efforts would be more encouraged,” Wetangula said.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

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It is celebrated annuly on March 8.

This year’s theme is Each For Equal.

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