Samia Suluhu Hassanwas born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar. After completing her secondary education in 1977, she was employed by the Ministry of Planning and Development as a clerk. She pursued a number of short-courses on a part-time basis. In 1986, she graduated from the Institute of Development Management (present-day Mzumbe University) with an advanced diploma in public administration.
Upon graduation, she was employed on a project funded by the World Food Programme. Between 1992 and 1994, she attended the University of Manchester and graduated with a postgraduate diploma in economics. In 2015, she obtained her MSc in Community Economic Development via a joint-programme between the Open University of Tanzania and the Southern New Hampshire University.
In 2000, she decided to join politics. She was elected as a special seat member to the Zanzibar House of Representatives and was appointed a minister by President Amani Karume. She was the only high-ranking woman minister in the cabinet and was “looked down on” by her male colleagues because of her gender. She was re-elected in 2005 and was re-appointed as a minister in another portfolio.
In 2010, she sought election to the National Assembly, standing in the parliamentary constituency of Makunduchi and winning by more than 80%. President Jakaya Kikwete appointed her as the Minister of State for Union Affairs. In 2014, she was elected as the Vice Chairperson of the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution.
In July 2015, CCM’s presidential nominee John Magufuli chose her as his running mate for the 2015 election, making her the first female running mate in the party’s history. She subsequently became the first female vice-president in the history of the country upon Magufuli’s victory in the election.
After Magufuli’s death on 17 March 2021, Suluhu became the 6th President of Tanzania, the first Zanzibari president and the country’s first female president.