A feminist manifesto in 15 suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A feminist  manifesto in 15 suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I cannot take any credit for this. These words are from the mighty pen or keyboard of the critically acclaimed Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Probably best known for her fantastic novels Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah, Chimamanda penned the essay, ‘Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in 15 Suggestions.”

It is powerful. It’s a manifesto to bring up daughters and sons by.

You can read the full manifesto here.

Thank you, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


First Suggestion: Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood.

Second Suggestion: Do it together. A verb is a ‘doing’ word? Well, a father is as much a verb as a mother.

Third Suggestion: Teach her that ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should do or not do something ‘Because you are a girl’ [this] is never a reason for anything. Ever.

Fourth Suggestion: Beware the danger of Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional female equality. Reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing, and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of women, or you do not.

Fifth Suggestion: Teach her to love books. The best way is by casual example. If she sees you reading, she will understand that reading is valuable.

Sixth Suggestion: Teach her to question language. Language is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions. But to teach her that, you will have to question your own language.

Seventh Suggestion: Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that marriage is not an achievement nor is it what she should aspire to. A marriage can be happy or unhappy but it is not an achievement.

Eighth Suggestion: Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.

Ninth Suggestion: Give her a sense of identity. It matters. Be deliberate about it. Let her grow up to think of herself as a proud woman.

Tenth Suggestion: Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance. Encourage her participation in sports. Teach her to be physically active. Take walks with her. Swim. Run. Play tennis. Football. Table tennis. All kinds, any kind of sports.

If she likes makeup let her wear it. If she likes fashion let her dress up. But if she doesn’t like either let her be. Don’t think that raising her feminist means forcing her to reject femininity. Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are.

Never ever link her appearance with morality. Never tell her that a short skirt is ‘immoral.’ Make dressing a question of taste and attractiveness instead of a question of morality.

Eleventh Suggestion: Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms.

We often use biology to explain the privileges that men have, the most common reason being men’s physical superiority.  Because social norms are created by human beings, and there is no social norm that cannot be changed.

Twelfth Suggestion: Talk to her about sex and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward but it is necessary.

Thirteenth Suggestion: Romance will happen so be on board. Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take. Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given.

Fourteenth Suggestion: In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints. Saintliness is not a pre-requisite for dignity. People who are unkind and dishonest are still human and still deserve dignity.

Fifteenth Suggestion: Teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to difference.  And by teaching her about difference, you are equipping her to survive in a diverse world.

We should all be feminists


In 2013 Chimamanda delivered this TED Ex Talk. I love it. Please take the time to watch it.

Her talk has since been adapted into the essay: We Should All Be Feminists.

And her words have travelled far, sampled in Beyonce’s track Flawless, and every Swedish high school student has been issued with a copy of the essay. My daughter (and son) is getting a copy too.

Photo credit Pocket Shop AB courtesy of Flickr

This post has affiliate links, which means could I receive a bit of money if you make a purchase using the above links. 

I want you to know that I only affiliate link to products I use, love, adore and want myself. Any money made will probably go towards my chocolate and red wine habit!

A Mum Track Mind
Pink Pear Bear
My Petit Canard


  1. November 20, 2016 / 12:56 am

    These are really great lessons. I havent read either of her books but have heard so many good things about them so will add them to my reading list. I think I’ll start by watching the TED talk first. I love her thinking 🙂 Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • Tooting Mama
      November 20, 2016 / 7:06 pm

      Ohh should read her books. They are fantastic. Do watch the TED talk she is such an inspirational speaker. Hope you love her as much as I do.

  2. November 19, 2016 / 3:56 pm

    Such an inspiring talk and I totally agree with the manifesto. I want to write it down and put it somewhere I can see it every day! Thanks for sharing! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Tooting Mama
      November 20, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      Print it off and stick it on the fridge, I’m thinking about putting it on my bedroom mirror a bit of feminist inspiration every morning.

  3. November 18, 2016 / 11:21 pm

    Good points and really enjoyed the TED talk too. Think there is important work to be done, teaching both our girls and boys to think clearer #marmondays

    • Tooting Mama
      November 20, 2016 / 7:15 pm

      Thank you, completely agree to it’s just as important to keep our boys informed as well as our girls.

  4. November 18, 2016 / 8:22 am

    Also popping by from #bigpinklink too. Have a lovely weekend. Claire x
    The Pramshed recently posted…Blogfest 2016My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 20, 2016 / 7:26 pm

      Thank you, have a great weekend too and I’ll swing by the Linky next week!

  5. Hannah G, The 'Ordinary' Mum
    November 17, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    Wow, such powerful words, I’m going to go away and read the full essay now! Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x
    Hannah G, The ‘Ordinary’ Mum recently posted…Big Pink Link 14/11/16My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 17, 2016 / 9:53 pm

      Thank you, she is an awesome writer, just absolutely love her!

  6. November 17, 2016 / 12:37 pm

    This is a great post and one that I hope I can instill on my daughter. I really enjoyed reading Americannah last year. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x
    The Pramshed recently posted…Blogfest 2016My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 17, 2016 / 9:52 pm

      I loved Amaericanah,and I really love Chimamanda’s powerful writing. I’m doing the same with my daughter, even more so now, let’s hope we have a new generation of strong-willed forthright women! We need them!

  7. Kat
    November 14, 2016 / 11:11 am

    I love these suggestions. Simple yet powerful. As a mum to a boy, they’re important for him too. Will definitely be checking out the full essay. Thanks for sharing!

    Kat x
    Kat recently posted…One Love | #AnFWordMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 15, 2016 / 10:38 pm

      Thank you, Chimamanda is such a powerful writer, I just love this manifesto, I really think something like this is needed more than ever!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:17 am

      I loved that book too. If you haven’t you must read Americanah – it’s a brilliant read. She’s an amazing writer, so articulate and spot on with her Feminist Manifesto.

  8. November 13, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    I agree with this list and think there’s some great ideas, but I think a lot of it also applies to boys. By teaching both my children there’s no such thing as gender roles for example, means my son is less likely to act upon them or reinforce them when he’s grown up. Feminism is the responsibility of all the sexes and should just be out on our girls!
    Laura recently posted…Style: Girl’s outfits for A/W16My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:17 am

      I completely agree, boys need to be educated too, we can’t just leave it to our girls!

  9. November 13, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    This is such a lovely post. Every woman should apply these to their lives!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:18 am

      Thank you, yes absolutely it’s a brilliant list to apply to one’s life.

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:28 am

      Thank you – completely agree!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:29 am

      Brilliant idea! Going to stick it on my daughter’s bedroom door too!

  10. November 13, 2016 / 3:31 pm

    Love this writer so much and this post is great.

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:30 am

      I think she is a fantastic writer too, just love her so much.

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:37 am

      Thank you. I’m starting to wonder what sort of future my daughter will have, looking at present day rhetoric, so women’s voices like that of Chimamanda is so important.

  11. November 13, 2016 / 1:46 pm

    Interesting read. I think it is good if you get some me time but your really do have to plan int with kids, I sometimes find it easier to stay indoors 🙁
    clairejustine recently posted…White Chocolate Banana Bread…My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:41 am

      It was a lot harder when the kids were younger, so even sneaking off to have a read, with a cup of coffee was great. Now they are older it’s much easier. And yes – it had to be planned / scheduled / pre-booked – that is so true. I do hope you manage to get some ‘me’ time.

  12. November 13, 2016 / 1:46 pm

    I was watching Chimamanda on the news the other night and was struck by her beauty, poise and words. I loved Half of a Yellow Sun which I read when I was much younger. I wasn’t aware of her work in this area and it’s something I’ll certainly be watching out for- have saved her video to watch later. The manifesto is fantastic – everything I’ve thought but probably not been able to put into words, so eloquently!
    Nicola Cassidy recently posted…19th century brought to life at Johnstown Castle, WexfordMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:43 am

      If you loved Half a Yellow Sun then you must read Americanah – she is such a beautiful writer. She has so much grace and poise, and she’s almost a decade younger than me – such wise words from someone so young, she is so awesome!

  13. November 13, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    I love Half of a Yellow Sun. What a great novel. I agree with the point about identity – everyone needs to learn to be themselves and to make a mark for themselves and not feel that they need to follow others which today’s society often implies.

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:44 am

      Ooooh if you love Half a Yellow Sun then read Americanah – I loved that too. I love her Manifesto -it’s so brilliant, so apt, so needed for today.

  14. November 13, 2016 / 8:07 am

    As the mother of ten year old I devoured all these suggestions with interest. I like to think I do my best to instil all these in her, both by words and example. One thing though, I don’t understand how clothes and cosmetics = femininity. They’re just packaging and paint – surely femininity is demonstrated through actions?
    Elizabeth recently posted…Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon, Leeks and PeasMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:51 am

      I’m trying to instill the same in my daughter (and son too!). I understand the clothes / cosmetics, my understanding was linking that with morality, but agree femininity is about actions. Anyhow, she is a powerful writer, and given what’s going on at the moment, strong feminist words are needed more than ever!

  15. November 12, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    Some very powerful words. The first suggestion is one I need to take on board for myself. Motherhood is all consuming at times and I really should make sure I find time to just be me.
    Rachel George recently posted…Safe Sip Drink CoversMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:52 am

      I agree, motherhood can really consume one’s identity – try and remember the woman you were before because she is still there! Give her a voice too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: