All eleventh grade high school students in Sweden are being given Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book “We Should All Be Feminists.”
The 64-page essay, adapted from Adichie’s TEDx talk and originally published in English last year, was translated and published in Swedish this week. The Swedish Women’s Lobby, along with several other organizations, are distributing Adichie’s work in hopes that it will integrated into the teaching curriculum and spur discussion about gender equality.
“This is the book that I wish all of my male class mates would have read when I was 16,” Clara Berglund, Chairperson of Swedish Women’s Lobby, said in a press release. “It is a gift to all second grade high school students, but it is also a gift to ourselves and future generations.”
“We Should All Be Feminists” stems from Adichie’s own experiences growing up in Nigeria where she was often stereotyped as a woman, such as the time she tipped a valet, who then proceeded to thank not her but the man she was with, assuming the money was his.
Adichie emphasized, however, that women aren’t the only ones who benefit from gender equality.
“The ideas we have about how we define masculinity are dangerous because we say to men and boys that they can’t be vulnerable,” Adichie said. “I think to be vulnerable is a human and beautiful thing.”
Adichie is also happy younger people will be getting the copy of the book, as she thinks it has more impact on them than it would on older generations.
“It’s very hard to undo years and years of conditioning and not just the problems of gender,” she said. “We can talk about access to leadership positions but there’s also the cultural conditioning that both men and women get and I think that’s very hard to undo.”
That’s a stark contrast with how she views future generations.
“All of my hope now is invested in young people,” she said. “It is the young people who will remake the world.”