Ms. Peneza, who is a former Member of Parliament in Tanzania, was invited on the podcast to discuss the country’s first woman president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, and her leadership so far since taking office in March 2021.
Ms. Peneza commented that despite President Suluhu Hassan’s long career in politics, including having served as Tanzania’s first female Vice President from 2015–2021, there have been some who have questioned her leadership abilities simply because she is a woman. In response to these baseless and unfounded doubts, Ms. Peneza said that President Suluhu Hassan is making it clear that being a woman and a leader are not mutually exclusive:
“She has to say when she addresses parliament, ‘yes, I am a woman, and I am able to lead.’ It’s a statement she has said three times now, whenever she is speaking; at the end she emphasizes that.”
Women leaders are often forced to contend with gender-based biases and challenges to their leadership abilities, as noted by inaugural EJS Center Board Member Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her book, “Women and Leadership,” written with former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard. Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has also spoken of the need to end the propagation of negative perceptions of women in leadership.
Ms. Peneza, who was identified by the podcast as a “rising star” in Tanzanian politics, also discussed her hopes for President Suluhu Hassan’s presidency, anticipating that, by leading by example, she could help establish more widespread confidence in women leaders in Tanzania:
“She will show the community that she can do things — that she doesn’t have to tell them she can do it.”
Listen to the full podcast here.