Tourism is Uganda’s top foreign exchange earner with the country earning US $1.4 billion according to the annual tourism sector performance report for financial year 2016/2017.
The tourists attraction in Uganda are, game and bird viewing, booting and water sports, hicking and mountain climbing.
Most tourists visit national parks for diverse wildlife species such as gorillas, birds and other animals. The source of Nile River is also a prime attraction including crater lakes and mountains.
However, in a bid to grow the sector’s revenues and attract more tourists, Uganda has added curvaceous women to the lists of tourism products it offers.
The country’s Minister for Tourism, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda described the plan on Tuesday at the launch of a plus size beauty pageant tagged “Miss Curvy Uganda” in the capital Kampala. The curvy women will be picked to promote tourism at the final stage in June 2019.
Speaking at the pageant launch, the minister said it would be “an exceptional event that will see young ladies showcase their beautiful curves”.
“We have naturally endowed, nice-looking women who are amazing to look at. Why don’t we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?” Mr Kiwanda poised, pointing at “a sample” of beautiful women in tight-fitting clothing walked around the poolside taking pictures with the event organisers and junior minister.
As expected, there was a swift backlash to the proposal online.
Some people accused Mr Kiwanda of talking about women as though they were zoo animals.
In Uganda, curvy women are now tourist ‘products’ as if zoo animals. On a scale of 1-10, how stupid is your tourism minister?
Someone explain Tourists will see the curves. Will they put these women in a cage for the tourists to see.
Since curvy women are considered as tourist attraction where shall we be caged,and how she we receive our money coz obviously people will be paying to see us???
Imagine women with curves in cages at enttebbe Zoo because they attract tourists ??.
Others accused the minister of objectifying and reducing women to nothing. Women activists have reacted strongly creating hashtags like #WeAreNotSexObjects.
The way miss curvy has been portrayed it is intended to hold women as objects which defeats their dignity.
When did tourism become synonymous with women? Where did this obsession with women’s ‘curves’ come from? In this Pearl of Africa? We turn our ladies into tourist attractions? Are we short of flora & fauna? Ministers of nowadays!!
You can’t declare women (curvy or otherwise) a tourist attraction in the 21st century #WomenNotSexObjects ~ Uganda tourism: ‘Curvy women’ comments prompt backlash.
‘In a bid to grow the sector’s revenues and attract more tourists, Uganda has added curvaceous women to its lists of tourism products it offers’ could mean modern day slavery #WeAreNotSexObjects
And in a Change.org petition, it was reported that campaigner Primrose Nyozozi Murungi wrote that she “personally feels attacked” by the idea, and called for Mr Kiwanda to issue an apology to the public.
“It’s 2019 ladies and gentlemen. And a whole board of tourism sat down, discussed and decided to actually pass something like this. Those were men and women with daughters at home. Those were gentlemen married to “curvy” women and dating them. Those were men and women with “curvy” sisters, mothers and friends who sat and actually passed this,” Murungi laments.
“They bought mineral water and soda for the meeting they even had lunch while talking about this brilliant idea. And guess what no one said this is objectification of women!! Nope, no one said that this is un doing the work of women activists for the past centuries! No one I mean no one thought that this was a stupid mediocre idea. At first I thought the pageant was to create acceptance for plus size women in society but alas Uganda does it again!” she added.
Consequently, the ‘offended’ Murungi now has started an online petition calling upon Ugandans who are equally offended to sign for the cancellation of the said pageant.
“In Uganda the ministry of Tourism has added “curvy women on the list of “tourism attractions”. They are holding a “miss curvy pageant” to promote this idea. I personally feel attacked. This is degrading of women. In a country where women are grabbed by men while walking on the streets and now they have legalised it by making them tourist attractions is not fair,” she says at the beginning of the petition.
“They are objectifying us and reducing women to nothing. Please sign this petition for ministry of tourism to take down the miss curvy challenge and offer an apology to the public as well,” she added.
Many of them are already signing the petition online:
Uganda Absolutely sickening that women’s bodies have to be objectified in this demeaning nature. This is absurd and needs to end. Stop projecting women as sex objects. #Signthepetition
Government/ministry of tourism : Cancel the curvy women contest in uganda. – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/MP5RqyENjf via @Change