Around the world women are still working for equality and the freedom to chase their personal goals. International Day of the Girl is on 11 October is part of that. Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives advice on how to raise an empowered young girl.

On Wednesday 7 October, leaders in more than 50 countries stepped aside and let a young girl be president or prime minister for the day. It was part of the #GirlsTakeover campaign and the focus was promoting digital skills and tech opportunities for girls. Kenya, Peru, Sudan and Vietnam were among the countries holding swaps.

In Finland, 16-year-old Aava Murto took charge and said: “It is a pleasure to be speaking here before you today - although, in a way, I wish that I did not have to stand here, that campaigns like the #GirlsTakeover were no longer necessary.”

Tellingly, there was virtually no news online about the takeover girls in other countries. But on the same day, two women won the Nobel prize for chemistry. Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were more proof what girls can achieve if they are given equal opportunities from the start.

How does a girl learn to stand up for herself and be an activist for women’s rights? We asked Nigerian-born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She has published a 15-step manifesto on how to raise a forward-thinking, feminist child. It's in the form of a letter to Ijeawele, a friend who had a daughter and asked for advice.

  • Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood.
  • Do it together. Remember in primary school we learnt that a verb was a "doing" word? Well, a father is as much a verb as a mother.
  • Teach her that "gender roles” are absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should do or not do something “because you are a girl.”
  • Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional female equality. Reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing, and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of women, or you do not.
  • Teach her to love books.
  • Teach her to question language. Language is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions. But to teach her that, you will have to question your own language.
  • Never speak of marriage as an achievement.
  • Teach her to reject likability. Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.
  • Give her a sense of identity. It matters. Be deliberate about it.
  • Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance.
  • Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as "reasons" for social norms.
  • Talk to her about sex and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward but it is necessary.
  • Romance will happen so be on board.
  • In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints.
  • Teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to difference. And the reason for this is not to be fair or to be nice, but merely to be human and practical.

RAISING GIRLS WITH POWER RAISING GIRLS WITH POWER Reviewed by Zandile Xabendlini on October 09, 2020 Rating: 5
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