Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“'Because you are a girl' is never reason for anything. Ever."

Dear Ijeawele cover

This book could also be called How to Raise Empowered Girls. It’s a short, but powerful book, which is really a letter the author wrote to a friend who’d just given birth to a baby girl. If you’re a mama of a boy, stick with me, this is still a great read for a few reasons (we’ll discuss soon).

The Official Blurb

A few years ago, Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, received a letter from a dear friend, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie's letter of response. Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions —compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive— for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

Thoughts on the Book

Whether you are a ‘feminist’ or not, this book gives so much food for thought for us as women. It raises conversations we need to have, not just for our children’s sakes, but for our own, as it questions some of the unspoken ideals, attitudes and habits around girls and women today (many of which we aren’t even aware of).

No matter what conclusion you come to on the points Adichie raises, after reading this book you’ll be able to make more mindful choices about the things you want to teach your kids.

For mamas of boys: The focus of the book is on girls, but I think it’s just as powerful for mamas of boys too. What types of things are you subconsciously teaching your boys - about being a boy/man and also about what they should think about girls/women.

This book also seems to resonate extra strongly with people who are from cultural backgrounds where there are strong expectations around what it means to be a woman and a mother, as was the case for Adichie, who was raised by Igbo parents in Nigeria.

I cannot stop bringing up points from this book with almost everyone I talk to. Dear Ijeawele is seriously thought-provoking. This book, and its message, really do matter. The best part? It’s a super quick and easy read! I read it in one sitting.

I'll leave you with some of my favourite quotes (though there were too many to list them all here!):

Book Club Stuff

Have you read this yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below. I'd particularly love to know:

  • What was your favourite lesson from the book?
  • What was your favourite quote?