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Samia Suluhu Hassan’s Road to President

Tanzania made history this past March with the inauguration of its first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan. This arrival to power follows the death of her presidential predecessor, John Magufuli. Back in 2015, Suluhu Hassan became Tanzania’s first female vice-president after being chosen by Magufuli as his running mate. She has made extraordinary strides for Tanzanian women in politics with this inauguration, as well for Tanzanian women in all male-dominated fields.

Suluhu Hassan was born in 1960 in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Her ambitions were clear at a young age when she became one of the few girls to attend primary school and secondary school at a time where a woman's role was seen solely as that of a homemaker and a wife. Following her graduation from secondary school in 1977, Suluhu Hassan went on to work with the Ministry of Planning and Development, and later with Tanzania’s World Food Program project in 1992. Prior to her role as Tanzania’s vice-president, she served as both the Member of Parliament for the Makunduchi constituency and the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs from 2010 to 2015.

Suluhu Hassan is also married to a former agricultural officer and has four children. Her second child, Wanu Hafidh Ameiris currently a special seat member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Clearly, Suluhu Hassan has inspired both her children and women all around Africa to take on leadership roles and work towards dismantling a patriarchal system.

When asked about Suluhu Hassan, Mohamed Mwinyi, the CEO and founder of Soma International, brought up three main implications that her rise to power mean for Tanzanian women, as well as Africa as a whole:

  • New Hope for Gender Equity in Tanzania

While all five predecessors to Suluhu Hassan prioritized women’s rights in accordance with their time, Tanzanian women now feel that they have more power with a fellow woman as president. For instance, Suluhu Hassan has already begun increasing female political participation by appointing Liberata Mulamula as a Minister of Foreign Affairs, the second woman in Tanzania to hold such a position.

  • Women Are Inextricable Stakeholders In Society

President Suluhu Hassan has made it a point to remind Tanzanian women of their societal importance. Women in Tanzania are mothers, teachers, and primary caretakers - roles that Suluhu Hassan holds as well. These roles, however, have not held her back from rising to power within the political sphere. She stands to symbolize the significance that women, who are Tanzania’s societal stakeholders, can have within political affairs.

  • Change Is Gender Free

President Suluhu Hassan, unlike her predecessors, brings a kinder disposition to the political sphere. However, she does not hesitate to push for necessary change within the government institutions. For example, she has fired unfit and corrupt government workers in order to bring more qualified and professional workers to these government positions.

"Tanzanian people call her ‘Mama’,'' said Mwinyi, ''She brings hope for a better change for both men and women in Tanzania.''

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Writer: Hannah Williams

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