It is International Women’s Day today, and to celebrate every woman, we’ve collated these 10 powerful quotes culled from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best speeches/written works; words which have broken borders and, of course, shaped opinions.
She has for many of these years been changing the world with her written works. Her contributions to literature and pop culture are immense; she has become a movement herself, and it is thanks to her continuous struggle for women’s emancipation and empowerment. And that’s why we have chosen to honour every woman today with her powerful words.
“I think it’s very important for that a woman start out with the premise that she matters equally. I think that’s really important. And if you start out with that premise, then the decisions you make will fall into place, in a way. I say that because I think many societies condition women to think of themselves as just slightly below men, and then it makes it easier to justify many of the things women are deprived of. And we decide to say, the premise is different. The premise is full equality.”
“The whole goal of feminism is to become redundant. My dream is for a world where I won’t have to call myself a feminist because there will be gender justice. And to get there, it has to be a mass movement.”
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”
“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. 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. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”
“I would often think to myself, ‘Why are women and girls made to care about people who they genuinely don’t care about?'”
“And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.”
“A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.”
“We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.”
“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.”