Feminism has to get rid of its village mentality. Swedens leading the route with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie but many other innovators could use the spotlight
If there was one country in the world that was going to be the first to make a feminist text compulsory reading for its adolescents, it was always going to be Sweden. The first country to break the 10% ceiling for female political representation in the 1950 s, Sweden has since accumulated many other firsts when it comes to gender equality.
But that Swedes selected the work of a Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as the book of option for every 16 year-old, is a milestone not just for Swedish feminism but for global feminism.
Throughout the 20 th century, from the first International Feminist Congress in Buenos Aires in 1910 to the conventions in Mexico, Nairobi and Beijing, feminism always sought to connect womens voices from around the world. Today, that no longer seems true. Feminism today is marked by a crippling village mentality, an unwillingness to see beyond the issues that affect ones own community.
Im not suggesting that having a global opinion is easy. The hurdles presented by race, sexual orientation and class are not sometimes difficult to grasp, as micro-aggressions far outnumber outright discrimination. Nor am I saying that feminism cant have regional differences, after all, I write an African feminist blog. But although there are subtleties to my struggle which are important to me as a woman of African heritage, I find the lessen those who are interested in feminist movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America unfortunate, especially because the systems that affect girls are increasingly global.
Whether it is reproductive rights, the growth of religious fundamentalism, child labour, poverty or climate change, many of the issues that have a negative impact on women rights can only wholly is an understanding when situated within a global perspective. This is why distributing Adichies volume We Should All Be Feminists to high school students is genuinely something to exult. Its a volume about sexism in Nigeria, but its relatable even in feminist Sweden.
We should all be reading Adichies book as well as countless other feminist volumes from around the globe that expand and consequently strengthen the feminist movement. As the late self-described black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet Audre Lorde said: It is not our changes that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences.
Lordes book Sister Outsider is an essential read. As a collection of essays exploring race, sexism and homophobia, it can help the budding feminist transcend the deafening noise that surrounds these topics on social media. There is a calmness to Lordes righteous anger, a deep wisdom and a commitment to global feminism however frustrating achieving it may be.
Another feminist book that everyone should read is Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi. Although fictional, it is based on a true account of a woman who is awaiting executing in a Cairo prison. It tells a harrowing story of growing up poor and female in Egypt, of being raped, undergoing FGM, and being married off to a 65 -year-old as a adolescent. This is the book that teaches its reader about the vicious nature of unhinged patriarchy but also, about feminist awakening.