January 14, 2020
By Juana Casas
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – The #MeToo movement may have given women’s rights a boost but the drive for gender equality still takes “two steps forward, and one step backwards,” Nigerian novelist and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told Reuters on Monday.
Adichie, whose TED talk, ‘We Should All Be Feminists,’ inspired a Beyonce song and a Christian Dior T-shirt collection, said women may be making strides in the workplace and public life, but still bear the lion’s share of domestic work.
“The #MeToo movement in many parts of the world made it possible for women to start talking about things that women couldn’t talk about, so for me that’s progress of sorts,” the author said on the sidelines of a conference in the Chilean capital Santiago.
“Often, it feels as though it’s two steps forward and one step backwards. We are talking about it but we haven’t quite found the solutions yet.”
She said children were still often being raised with “ingrained gender roles.”
“The idea of domestic work, for example, who does it, is it something people should be paid for?” she said. “In many countries across the world, it’s still thought of as something that women should do.”
“Because of that, women are doing domestic work at home and also working outside the home. Women are now doubly burdened and so what can seem like equality really isn’t. In the future, we have to address that; otherwise, it will take women back even more.”
Adichie, whose award-winning novels – including Americanah, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun – address issues of gender, race, identity and immigration, also took a swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his stricter approach to migration from Central and South America represented “cruelty for the sake of cruelty.”
“This administration has criminalized immigration in a way that I think is immoral,” she said. “Many people want to come to the U.S. not because they are criminals or bad people but because they want better for themselves.”
“I don’t think all countries should have open borders but what’s happening in the U.S., where children are being treated in the most horrendous way, is quite unnecessary. It’s cruelty for the sake of cruelty.”
Trump has made clamping down on migration a top priority of his current term in office and his 2020 re-election campaign. In July, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a judge to stop the Trump administration’s practice of separating families https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-children/over-900-children-separated-at-u-s-border-since-policy-halted-aclu-idUSKCN1UP2KZ at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Adichie was the keynote speaker at Chile’s Future Congress, an event that brings together notable thinkers and scientists to debate solutions to issues like social inequality and climate change.
(Reporting by Juana Casas; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Bernadette Baum)