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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tanzania has a feminine president. Does it have a feminist president?

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The late Magufuli had open contempt for girls. President Suluhu has the ability and political capital to vary course.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan talking in 2017. Credit score: Gospel Kitaa.

Following the shock of President John Magufuli’s loss of life on 17 March, many Tanzanians are stuffed with hope at what the rule of his successor may convey. President Samia Suluhu has already reversed a few of her predecessor’s stances. She has ordered bans on media retailers imposed by the earlier administration to be lifted and initiated an skilled coronavirus taskforce. Now, many want to see Tanzania’s first feminine president break with Magufuli’s legacy on gender points.

Throughout his 5 or so years in workplace, President Magufuli exhibited contempt for girls and women repeatedly. In June 2017, as an illustration, he introduced a ban on pregnant women attending faculty, saying “we can not enable this immoral behaviour to permeate our main and secondary faculties”. This coverage not solely compelled susceptible kids into additional precarity however went in opposition to his personal authorities’s current guidelines. In 2018, his administration banned household planning adverts on radio and tv. The federal government gave no cause for the transfer, nevertheless it got here days after Magufuli had known as individuals who use contraception “lazy”, saying “they don’t need to work laborious to feed a big household”.

The previous president’s disdain for girls additionally got here out in his rhetoric as he often went off script. Throughout a operate at State Home in August 2020, for instance, Magufuli mentioned he would beat girls from southern Tanzania who have been planning to protest, including “I’m being trustworthy with out hiding it”. Within the October 2020 elections, he requested voters in Temeke, Dar es Salaam, to vote for the ruling celebration’s lighter-skinned candidate, saying he was extra prone to hearken to her than her darker-complexioned opponent.

These stances most likely didn’t lose Magufuli help, particularly amongst his principally rural and poorly educated base who historically admire machismo. His sexist feedback have been usually introduced as jokes and have been usually wildly cheered by rally-goers and followers on social media. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely it received him votes that he didn’t have already got both.

President Suluhu inherits the identical base and could also be hesitant to maneuver too quick and threat alienating it, however past this, there’s little stopping her reversing lots of the former president’s positions. Magufuli’s model of misogyny appears to have mirrored his private views moderately than being a part of any larger authorities technique. His stance on girls turned the state’s. Now he’s gone, Suluhu has the chance to let her personal beliefs on gender form official coverage.

What does Suluhu stand for?

Based mostly on her first days in workplace since her inauguration on 19 March, it’s tough to foretell to what extent President Suluhu will try to sort out gender inequality.

On the one hand, she appeared to concentrate on, and gearing as much as confront, the deep-rooted patriarchal views that permeate Tanzanian society when she declared at Magufuli’s state funeral: “For these with doubts if this lady might be the president of the United Republic of Tanzania, I need to inform you that the one you see standing earlier than you is the president.”

Alternatively, Suluhu’s 29 March remarks on sexual corruption in universities have already disillusioned gender advocates. They accuse the president of misrecognising the character of the issue and downplaying its seriousness when she emphasised that the perpetrator and sufferer of sexual exploitation are “each adults”.

Based mostly on her background, it is usually tough to get a way of Suluhu’s beliefs. What we do know is that the 61-year-old is a seasoned politician who is aware of what it takes to progress as a lady in Tanzania’s male-dominated politics. Suluhu was first elected in 2000 as a member of the Zanzibar Home of Representatives and have become the one high-ranking feminine minister within the Zanzibari authorities. In 2010, she received a seat within the Nationwide Meeting. She was instantly appointed as a minister beneath President Jakaya Kikwete earlier than she turned vice-president when Magufuli took workplace in 2015.

From this expertise, President Suluhu will know what it takes to get issues carried out. The query stays of whether or not she has the political will to advance gender equality in a rustic the place feminine illustration in politics is low and ladies’s earnings lag considerably behind males’s.

If she does, reversing Magufuli’s sexist ban on pregnant college students going to highschool would ship a transparent– and politically cost-free – message that it’s going to not be enterprise as normal. One other simple transfer can be to extend the minimal age for females to marry to 18 years, in accordance with the 2019 Supreme Courtroom of Enchantment ruling that Tanzania’s marriage act is presently unconstitutional.

The ball on these issues and extra is in President Suluhu’s court docket. Taking workplace on a wave of hope, she has all the ability and political capital she must reverse Magufuli’s regressive insurance policies and focus as a substitute on bettering the welfare of girls and women in Tanzania. However like a lot at this level, the extent to which she is going to meaningfully break along with her predecessor’s looming legacy stays to be seen.


 

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