50 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Quotes from One of The World’s Leading Feminists

These Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes shine a powerful and honest light on feminism, race, and other social issues.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award-winning author from Nigeria.

Her work ranges from short stories to non-fiction and her books have been translated into over 30 languages.

For almost 20 years, Adichie has been a critically-acclaimed author whose novels have introduced a brand new generation of readers to African literature.

In addition to writing, Adichie is also a public speaker, and her TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, is one of the most-viewed TED Talks in the world.

In her books and speeches, Adichie covers topics that many people would rather shy away from — and she covers them with honesty and poise.

The following quotes are our favorite Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes about feminism, gender, social stereotypes, and more.

Don’t forget to also check out these Elizabeth Gilbert quotes that will help you find your power.

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

Explore our complete collection of motivational quotes here.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes on feminsim

1. “I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Never apologize for being who you are. Take up space and use your voice. There is nothing wrong with being female or being feminine.

2. “Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: No one should apologize for being masculine either. However, we should also let boys be who they are and not force them to be a certain way.

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3. “I looked the word up in the dictionary, it said: Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. My great-grandmother, from stories I’ve heard, was a feminist. She ran away from the house of the man she did not want to marry and married the man of her choice. She refused, protested, spoke up when she felt she was being deprived of land and access because she was female. She did not know that word feminist. But it doesn’t mean she wasn’t one. More of us should reclaim that word. The best feminist I know is my brother Kene, who is also a kind, good-looking, and very masculine young man.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Feminist, as shown in the definition, is not a dirty word. It should be something we all care about, male and female alike. Everyone’s wife, sister, daughter, aunt, and female friends deserve rights equal to those of men.

4. “‘You know, you’re a feminist.’ It was not a compliment. I could tell from his tone—the same tone with which a person would say, ‘You’re a supporter of terrorism.‘” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Again, feminism isn’t a bad word. Be proud of the fact that you are who you are and support equal rights for everyone. That makes you a pretty good person, so the next time someone says it with a condescending tone just take it as a compliment.

5. “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… 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.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Don’t sweep injustice under the rug because it makes some people feel certain ways. My mother-in-law always says, “What is right is right and the rest doesn’t count.” Be brave, bold, and loud and stand up for what is right.

6. “My own definition is 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, we must do better.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: This is such a simple and not politically motivated explanation for what feminism is. There is a problem with gender equality as it is today, and we can do better! We must do better for future generations.

7. “We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Everyday Application: Double standards abound with gender “roles” and “expectations.” The truth is that women should be able to embrace their bodies and sexuality with as much confidence as men. There is nothing wrong with having sex and enjoying it!

8. “I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Respect everyone regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. Every human being deserves respect, it’s just that simple. This means you should not put up with disrespect from anyone, either!

9. “If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Women should have the same representation and decision making powers that men do. This means being able to exercise her own choices about her life. There is no reason why women should be lagging behind men, both socially and economically, in today’s world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes about gender

10. “The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: We need to stop giving our power to anything or anyone who tells us how we should be. Be who you are. Become who you want to become. Live your life to the fullest, after all it is yours to live!

11. “Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we should begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Everyone should be able to achieve their goals and be true to themselves. Gender should not be a hinderance. We can build a world where men and women are on equal footing and each gender is treated with respect.

12. “What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Is your child good at sports, leading, or cooking? It doesn’t matter what gender they are, let them be true to their strengths. Is your child interested in something? Then let them explore those interests without worrying about conforming to gender roles. They will grow up to be much happier people.

13. “I am trying to unlearn many lessons of gender I internalized while growing up. But I sometimes still feel vulnerable in the face of gender expectations.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: What are gender expectations? These are social roles that are typically considered acceptable for people of certain genders. For instance, many people assume women should be good cooks. Boys should play sports, and not participate in dance. Do what you enjoy, and be who you were meant to be, not what society thinks you should be!

14. “Gender, as it functions today, is a grave injustice.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Are you actively suppressing your interests because of your gender. The injustice you are doing to yourself is grave. Who could you be if you followed your strengths and interests instead of trying to conform to someone else’s ideal specimen of your gender? Let yourself reach your true potential!

15. “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.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: There are worse things that can happen then the boys not liking a girl. We should be teaching everyone, regardless of gender, to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. If we all treated each other with kindness and respect the world would be a better place!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes that break stereotypes

16. “What struck me – with her and with many other female American friends I have – is how invested they are in being ‘liked’. How they have been raised to believe that their being likeable is very important and that this ‘likeable’ trait is a specific thing. And that specific thing does not include showing anger or being aggressive or disagreeing too loudly.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Everyday Application: Do not live your life seeking the validation and approval of others. Be kind and decent to your fellow human beings, but don’t worry about who doesn’t like you. Not everyone is going to like you, this is just a fact. When you worry less about the opinions of others you are able to be your true self.

17. ″I didn’t know I was even supposed to have issues until I came to America.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

18. “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.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

19. ″He expected her to feel what she did not know how to feel.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

20. “But by far the worst thing we do to males — by making them feel they have to be hard — is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

21. “We praise girls for virginity but we don’t praise boys for virginity (and it makes me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out).” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

22. “We teach girls shame. ‘Close your legs. Cover yourself.’ We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

23. “We police girls.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

24. “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.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Never make yourself or your accomplishments smaller to make other people feel better. Feeling better about themselves is their responsibility, not yours. Your responsibility is to do your best and be yourself. If that threatens someone else, that is because of their own insecurities.

25. “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.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: We should encourage all our children to be their authentic selves. That way they do not have to unlearn everything they learned as children to be ok with themselves and find happiness in this life. Don’t be afraid of your dreams and desires. Speak up for what you think and don’t be silent! These are all the things that make you uniquely you.

26. “If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

27. “We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

28. Our society teaches a woman at a certain age who is unmarried to see it as a deep personal failure. While a man at a certain age who is unmarried has not quite come around to making his pick.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

29. “Why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, yet we don’t teach boys to do the same?” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes about race

30. ″When you make the choice to come to America, you become black.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

31. “You can’t write an honest novel about race in this country.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

32. “These white people think that everybody has their mental problems.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

33. “I can’t believe it. My president is black like me.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

34. “So what if you weren’t ‘black’ in your country? You’re in America now.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes that inspire us to change

35. “The person more qualified to lead is not the physically stronger person. It is the more intelligent, the more knowledgeable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: These are skills that make great leaders. Leadership is about building trust through empathy, inspiring others, and executing the vision of an organization. Both women and men are capable of these things.

36. “We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

37. “Culture does not make people. People make culture.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

38. “All of us, women and men, must do better.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

39. “I am also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyday Application: Are humans really capable of change. Depending on the person you ask, you will get different answers. However, I do think people can remake themselves for the better. Sometimes, they do it when they are faced with a life or death situation. Other times, they have a deep desire to change something within their lives, and start working on themselves. However, there has to be an incredibly strong motivating force to create this kind of change.

40. “It is easy to say, ‘But women can just say no to all this.’ But the reality is more difficult, more complex. We are all social beings. We internalize ideas from our socialization.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

41. “I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

42. “You could say anything at any time to anyone. ” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

More Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes

43. “I often make the mistake of thinking that something that is obvious to me is just as obvious to everyone else.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

44. “Silence hangs over us, but … a different kind of silence, one that lets me breathe. ” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

45. “Morality, as well as the sense of taste, is relative.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

46.“The old silence had broken and left us with the sharp pieces. ” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

47. “When a house is on fire, you run out before the roof collapses on your head.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

48. “Being defiant can be a good thing sometimes.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

49. “Marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

50. “She was inside this silence and she was safe.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Did you enjoy these Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria but then moved to the United States where she completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in creative writing.

Adichie has commented that having grown up in Nigeria, she was not used to being identified by the color of her skin until she moved to America.

She writes about her experience navigating race as an idea in her book, Americanah.

Adichie is one of the world’s most prominent leaders in the fight for feminism and race equality.

Her TED Talk We Should All Be Feminists has triggered a discussion about feminism that reverberated around the world.

Which of these Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes and sayings is your favorite?

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