Here’s the latest in news that makes me want to move to Sweden: Every 16-year-old in the country is receiving a free copy of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The free books are thanks to the Swedish Women’s Lobby and publisher Albert Bonniers. They’re launching the project at Norra Real high school in Stockholm, before distributing the books high school students across the country. As they said in a statement, they hope that the prevalence of the books will, “work as a stepping stone for a discussion about gender equality and feminism.”
The book is based on Adichie’s equally wonderfully TED talk on feminism, which you should definitely take a minute to be inspired by right now. It’s been watched by more than 2 million people on YouTube, and is a call to action for men and women to do better.
You’ve probably actually heard some of the talk from the lines Beyoncé sampled in “Flawless”: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much.'” And trust me, the rest of the talk and essay are just as flawless and thought-provoking as the sample in the song.
“My 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,'” Adichie writes in the essay. “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.”
“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. “It is a gift to all second-grade high-school students, but it also a gift to ourselves and future generations.”
Here’s to hoping that this move can be a first step that at least some schools in the U.S. follow. Until then, I’ll just join in the hope for society that Adichie expresses so much better than I could ever dream to:
“When I was 16, I don’t think I knew what the word ‘feminist’ meant,” Adichie said at the launch for the program in Sweden. “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. Mostly, I hope that one day we will not need to be feminists. Because we will live in a world that is truly just and equal.”
[Image via Amazon and Shutterstock]