Every 16-year-old in Sweden is about to learn why Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie thinks they should be feminists.
The Americanah author's 2013 TED talk, "We Should All Be Feminists," was just released in the country in book form, and the Swedish Women's Lobby immediately announced an initiative to get the text into the hands of every 16-year-old in the country's school system, "as a gift."
"This is the book that I wish all of my male classmates would have read when I was 16," said the organization's chairperson, Clara Bergland. "It is a gift to all second-grade high school students, but it is also a gift to ourselves and future generations."
The talk has made waves the world over. Audio from it was even sampled in Beyoncé's empowerment anthem "Flawless," to the point that it is credited to Beyoncé "ft. Chimamanda Adichie." In that song, the recording of Adichie's voice intones sobering truths about how society approaches girls versus boys:
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."
For her part, Adichie sent a video to be played at the Swedish Women's Lobby's launch event for the initiative.
"I’m a feminist because I want to live in a world where a woman is never told that she can or cannot or should or should not do anything because she is a woman," she tells the camera, steady in her resolve. "I want to live in a world where men and women are happier, where they are not constrained by gender roles. I want to live in a world where men and women are truly equal." She goes on to address the Swedish high schoolers directly: "When I was 16, I don’t think I knew what the word ‘feminist’ meant. I don’t think I knew the word at all. But I was a feminist. And I hope that the 16-year-olds that will read this book in Sweden will also decide that they’re feminists."
The video is less than a minute long, but Adichie is, as always, so fastidious with her words that the clip perfectly sums up why she has become such a strong voice in literary and social justice circles alike.