Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Book cover for Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
Written by ritacunha

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s response to a childhood friend’s letter asking for advice on how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. It’s divided into fifteen parts, one for each advice she gives, and they range from urging her friend to teach her daughter about the importance of language and education, to teaching her about sex and marriage.

Worlds apart

While it may seem at first that Nigeria, the country where the author and her friend live, and our Western countries are worlds apart, Adichie draws parallels between them by highlighting the injustices women face everyday in this African nation. It takes a skilled writer to make the reader look past cultural differences and arrive at the conclusion that sexism is still present in our world, even in places where feminism is perceived by some as “unnecessary”.

"Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not 'if only.' Not 'as long as.' I matter equally. Full stop."

Every point made in her essays is carefully broken down and analysed, relying on logic and eloquently delivered. Each section adds an interesting insight into Nigerian societal structure, as well as reasons as to why feminism is still relevant nowadays.

"Teach her that if you criticize X in women but do not criticize X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women."

Endearing tone

One of my favorite things in this book is the tone of the writing. Adichie’s prose has a caring and endearing tone, being both firm on the advice she gives her friend and kind with her words. Despite the seriousness of the issues discussed in her essays, she manages to keep a friendly voice.

Dear Ijeawele is a brilliantly written collection of essays where Adichie’s loving and necessary advice gets to shine, and lovers of her previous works are in for a treat when they read this one.

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