"Why don't we use these people [curvy women] as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?"
In Uganda, a plan has been mooted to promote tourism in the country, but this plan is pretty much unfriendly. The tourism minister in Uganda, Godfrey Kiwanda, suggested the use of "curvy women" as a tourism "product" and the ladies are not happy with this.
Kiwanda wants to champion this plan for the country, but he will need to be prepared for a lot of backlash. At the launch of a plus-size beauty pageant in the capital Kampala, the minister described the plan that the country would take in promoting tourism using full-figured women.
"Uganda is endowed with beautiful women. Their beauty is unique and diverse. That's why we decided to use the unique beauty, the curves... to make this beauty a product to be marketed along with what we already have as a country ranging from nature, the language and food, to make it a tourist attraction," Kiwanda said this to AFP on Thursday.
The beauty pageant for the "curvy women" is part of these plans. The pageant will be held in June. Kiwanda said that the winner of the Miss Curvy Contest would be part of the country's tourism campaign, where beauty will be used as a proudct to promote tourism.
But these plans have already raised the indignation of many in the country. The arguments border on the objectification of women, treating them as some products and not as human beings.
It is due to this anger, that the comments have been labelled "dehumanizing" and "degrading." Some want the beauty pageant to be scrapped off, and others are calling for the tourism minister to resign.
The executive director of the Uganda Women's Network told AFP that the minister's plans are a form of "perversion." She said, "This is perversion. To think women can be used as sex objects in this age and time is an absurdity and we condemn it."
Some said that the minister thinks women are "zoo animals" who are supposed to be put "in a cage for the tourists to see."
An online petition on Change.org has been launched, with the intention of stopping the campaign. Primrose Nyonyozi Murungi, who is an entrepreneur and activist, is behind the petition.
"Women in Uganda have been attacked while on the streets. What happens now that the government is confirming a stereotype that women are sexual objects and can be touched regardless and more so made a product of tourism," she said.
Feeling the anger, Kiwanda said that, "Diverse as we are as a country we have a message to put out there about the different curves our women have, which we believe is a tourism attraction."
It is interesting to see whether the government will proceed with these plans, or whether it will give in to the anger of the people.
Header image credit: Within Nigeria
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