Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been chastised for remarking that female footballers have “flat chests” and that they would not be appealing marriage candidates.
Hassan made the remarks at a ceremony on Sunday to commemorate a national men’s team’s triumph in a regional football competition, when she also ironically asked for more financing for women’s sports.
“Those with flat chests may appear to be guys rather than women,” she stated at the ceremony on Sunday.
“And you might wonder… if you look at their faces… because if you want to marry, you want a lady who is lovely and possesses the attributes you desire.”
“Those qualities have vanished” for female footballers, she noted.
Hassan, who took office in March when her predecessor John Magafuli died suddenly, is Africa’s first female head of state, beside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, who serves primarily in a ceremonial capacity.
“Today, they make us proud as a nation by bringing trophies to the country, but what life will they be living in the future, when their legs are tired from playing, when they don’t have the health to play?” she asked.
“To them, marriage is a dream come true. Because your mother will inquire if they are a lady or a fellow man if one of you takes them home as your wife.”
Hassan’s comments were widely derided online.
“The comment by president @SuluhuSamia on women footballers is a humiliation to all women,” said Catherine Ruge, the head of the women’s wing of the opposition Chadema party and former MP.
“All women deserve respect.”
Maria Sarungi, the founder of civil society group Change Tanzania, echoed that view.
“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 @AWLNetwork,” she tweeted, referring to the African Women Leaders Network