President John Magufuli (pictured) 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, a step critics said 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 industrialization 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.
Tanzania has sustained relatively high growth, averaging 6–7 percent a year, over the past decade. At the same time, the East African nation of 55 million people already has one of the world’s highest birth rates – around 5 children per woman.