Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been criticised for remarks about women footballers having “flat-chests” and suggesting they will find it hard to find men willing to marry them.
The East African country’s first female Head of State made the comments at a ceremony on Sunday to celebrate the victory of a national men’s team in a regional football championship. Said Hassan:
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For those who have flat chests, you might think they are men and not women.
And if you look at their faces you might wonder … because if you want to marry, you want someone who is attractive, a lady who has the qualities that you want.
Hassan added that for the women footballers “those qualities have disappeared”. She said:
Today they are making us proud as a nation when they bring trophies to the country but if you look at their lives in the future, when the legs are tired from playing, when they don’t have the health to play, what life will they be living?.
The life of marriage is like a dream to them. Because even if one of you here takes them home as your wife, your mother will ask if they are a woman or a fellow man.
Catherine Ruge, the head of the women’s wing of the opposition Chadema party and former MP responded:
The comment by president @SuluhuSamia on women footballers is a humiliation to all women.
Maria Sarungi, the founder of the civil society group Change Tanzania, echoed that view. She tweeted:
So all those cheering a female presidency…@SuluhuSamia is denigrating female football players for having ‘flat chests’ and thus lacking attractive features necessary to get married. You must be proud [African Women Leaders Network].
Hassan took office in March after the sudden death of her predecessor John Magafuli.
She is the only serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial.