President John Magufuli urged Tanzania’s women to “set your ovaries free” and bear more children as a way to help boost the economy into a regional powerhouse.
Critics are however skeptical, claiming the step would instead worsen inequality and poverty.
“When you have a big population you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” he said late on Tuesday, citing India and Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic dividend.
“I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs,” he told a gathering in his home town of Chato.
Since taking office in 2015, Magufuli has launched an industrialisation campaign that has helped buoy economic growth, which has averaged 6-7% annually in recent years. But he has said a higher birth rate would achieve faster progress.
Data from the U.N. population fund UNFPA shows Tanzania’s population is growing by about 2.7 percent a year while most public hospitals and schools are overcrowded and many young people lack jobs.
UNFPA says about a third of married women in Tanzania use contraceptives, but Magufuli has criticized Western-backed family planning programmes implemented by the health ministry.
Last year Magufuli said curbing the birth rate was “for those too lazy to take care of their children”, and the health ministry barred broadcasting of family planning ads by a U.S.-funded project.
Opposition leaders in Tanzania have criticised Magufuli’s stance, saying the country’s already rapid population growth is a time bomb, and disapproving remarks surfaced on social media.
“As a modern woman I can’t believe this … especially coming from him (the president),” said one Twitter user.
Others said it was simply bad economics for Magufuli to urge Tanzanians to have more babies.
“Women’s ovaries should never be used as a tool for seeking economic prosperity,” others cried out.
Isn’t it convenient to have Kenya’s latest breaking news at your fingertip? That’s right, at kenyanreport.com (which is an intriguing platform to explore all types of Kenya news); you’ll find good informative blogs and articles on various headlines. As a news-savvy person, you’ll not be disappointed with breaking news, entertainment news, politics and political happening, diaspora news, celebrity trend and many more.