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Last Updated: Friday, 21 November, 2003, 09:58 GMT
Kenya women MPs' handbag protest
Kenya's parliament
There are 18 women MPs in parliament
Women members of parliament in Kenya have walked out, in protest at a ban on handbags in the debating chamber.

It was imposed ten months ago because the parliamentary authorities feared bags could conceal dangerous weapons.

But the women have campaigned against the ban ever since and walked into parliament with their bags on Thursday.

When parliamentary speaker Francis Ole Kaparo refused to waive it on Thursday, 12 of them walked out to applause from other female MPs.

One of the women legislators who walked out, Amina Abdullah, told the BBC's Network Africa that there was cheering from male MPs as well when they marched out and they felt they had the support of many of their colleagues.

"The handbag issue is just one of a number of gender sensitive problems we experience," she said.

"We tend to require writing material, some of us require glasses... Male MPs put all their pens in their jackets and pockets. I guess they have a minimum of six pockets," she said.

She said they would wait for a response from the speaker when parliament reconvenes on Tuesday before deciding on what they would do next.

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