Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has come under heat for saying that the country’s female footballers are unattractive for marriage.
The President made the remarks while hosting Tanzania’s under-23 men’s football team at State House in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam.
She said that while the females were making the country proud, they did not stand a chance of getting married because of the way they looked.
“If we bring them here and line them up, for those with flat chests, you might think they are men — not women,” she added.
She added “and for the way they are, a life of marriage is just a dream.”
Social media users did not respond positively to her comments.
One user, Mwanahamisi Singano, wrote: “This woman wants to turn Tanzania into Afghanistan. Where are the rights of our women? Mama, encourage our African women to excel in what they are good at.”
Singano, a female activist, told DW that the statement was humiliating to women.
She said, “We have been pushed to fit certain categories of beauty. So it is really sad to hear that the president is uttering those words in a manner that says: If you do not have these qualities, you are not woman enough. You are not attractive.”
“There are people who find this statement normal, as we live in a society where we have normalized objectifying women as we have normalized looking at women in terms of marriage,” she added.
The gender activist emphasized the fact that as a leader Suluhu Hassan needs to set high standards.
She added that such remarks could be discouraging. “Will they now — after those remarks — be inspired to get into sports?” she asked.
Footballer Sanna Garraway said, “It is precisely these stereotypes that the Tanzanian women players told us about, and it is the typical prejudices they encounter that lead to structural and social barriers.” The player was referencing a sports exchange she had with the Simba Queens Club in Dar es Salaam two years ago.
“I find it particularly disappointing that on the one hand, the president promotes women in sports and at the same time employs these stereotypes,” she added.