Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here (with edits):…]

Feminism – A rather commonly used terms these days, with interpretations far and wide, but not necessarily, coherent. If among contemporary writers there is one who imparts veritable meaning and clarity to this much relevant and pertinent ideology, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would be her name.

When a friend asked Adichie how she can raise her little daughter as a feminist, Adichie shared fifteen suggestions in form of a letter. And each one of them echoes so loud that it feels quite unreal to see these obvious orders missing in our societies.

She advises that a girl should be taught to reject “likeability”. Often people put so much thrust on girls being nice and likeable that this shallowness gobbles up more important and life-defining traits like kindness and fullness of character. It is the same brutality the society exhibits when it equates a girl’s appearance to her morality. One should teach their daughters to consistently reject this policing. From setting examples at home by sharing responsibilities, to actively shunning the so-called “gender-roles”, the onus of driving the essence of feminism lies on both the parents. Among other propositions, Adichie writes about encouraging the child to read and understanding the importance of having an identity of her own.

Adichie’s effectiveness in what she advocates is primarily because of her aim, which indeed, is to empower girls and not turn them into saints. She insists that female goodness goes hand in hand with female evil, and that, she is fallible and not without flaws. She justly maintains that equality is a two-way road and that raising your child as a feminist is inclusive of not manipulating the opposite gender to one’s benefit.

Drawing inferences from her own experiences (as an Igbo girl), her teens, her biases and her learning, she forwards her recommendations with not just an intimate warmth inherent between two childhood friends but also etches a manifesto, as is mentioned in the title, that has an universal application. If you have not been taken by Adichie’s strong voice or ethos in the past and have an inkling you might not after all spend time reading this book (though I strongly recommend against it), you can view her fifteen suggestions under this spoiler: (view spoiler). But don’t take my word; read it. The accompanying texts and instances she quotes, are as much a delight to read as they are wise to imbibe.

Clearly, this is a book which should be read by parents and its philosophies, inculcated in their children, regardless of their genders.


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