Known primarily for three highly regarded novels, “Purple Hibiscus,” “Half of a Yellow Sun,” and, most recently, “Americanah,” Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a 2013 TED Talk about the difficulties—and necessity—of being a feminist in Nigeria. The talk soon became a minor Internet sensation, amassing more than 2.3 million views to date.

Adichie has adapted the address into a 64-page book, called “We Should All Be Feminists.” Now the translated book is being distributed to every 16-year-old in Sweden by the Swedish Women’s Lobby and publisher Albert Bonniers. Launching the project at Norra Real High School in Stockholm this week, organizers said they hoped the book would “work as a stepping stone for a discussion about gender equality and feminism.”

“My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, ‘Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better,’ ” Adichie writes in the essay. “All of us, women and men, must do better.”

“Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest,” Adichie continues. “Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general – but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded.”

From The Guardian:

The Nigerian novelist is also critical of modern masculinity, calling it a “hard, small cage” that forces men to hide emotion. “We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability,” she writes. “We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak – a hard man.”

“This is the book that I wish all of my male classmates would have read when I was 16,” said Clara Berglund, chair of the Swedish Women’s Lobby, announcing the giveaway. “It feels so important to contribute to this project. It is a gift to all second-grade high-school students, but it is also a gift to ourselves and future generations.”

Adichie’s essay was published in English last autumn. The 2012 TED talk has been watched by more than 2 million people on YouTube and was sampled by Beyoncé in her single Flawless, including the lines: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much.’ ”

The novelist, in a video message for students played at the Stockholm launch event, said she believes “feminism is about justice.”

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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