Meghan Markle has a long history of honoring International Women's Day

By Erin Hill
March 07, 2020 05:30 PM
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Meghan Markle
| Credit: Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Like she has in the past, Meghan Markle is celebrating International Women’s Day in a big way!

The Duchess of Sussex, who is back in the U.K. for a final round of royal engagements, visited Robert Clack School in the town of Dagenham in east London on Friday for a special International Women’s Day assembly.

Meghan spoke to 700 students, who range in age from 11 to 18, about a host of women’s issues that have become a key part of her work. “When we thought about what I wanted to do for International Women’s Day this year, for me it was incredibly important to be with the women of our future,” she said in her speech. “And that is all of the young women here, as well as the young men who play a very large part in this. Specifically coming to your school made a lot of sense for me because of this social justice and the impact that it’s rooted in.”

Credit: Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Later Meghan added, “I encourage and empower each of you to really stand in your truth, to stand for what is right – to continue to respect each other. For young men, to continue to value and appreciate the women in your lives, and also set the example for some men who are not seeing it that same way. You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life – protect them. Make sure that they are feeling valued and safe. Let’s all rally together to make International Women’s Day something that is not just on Sunday – but frankly, feels like every day of the year.”

Also during her visit, the mom of one toured the school, during which she made a stop at the library, where students have been researching their favorite female poets and writers, and the art studio where students were preparing for their Model United Nations competition.

Meghan and Harry, who have been staying on Vancouver Island in Canada with their son Archie, are set to officially step down as senior working royals on March 31. They’ve been visiting some of their patronages during their return to the U.K. this week.

Credit: Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Meghan Markle on International Women’s Day in 2018
| Credit: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

Meghan has a long history of honoring International Women’s Day. In 2019 (while she was pregnant with Archie!), she spoke on a special panel hosted by King’s College London.

Sitting in the center of the panel, Meghan said: “If things are wrong and there is a lack of justice and an inequality, someone needs to say something — and why can’t it be you?”

In 2018, Meghan and Harry stepped out in Birmingham for the occasion. Inside the Millennium Point building, Harry and Meghan joined a social enterprise event, where young women were taking part in a variety of activities designed to boost recognition of science, technology, engineering and math–based education and jobs. (She also revealed that Harry is a feminist, too!)

During International Women’s Day in 2015, Meghan gave an impassioned speech at a UN Women’s conference in New York in which she discussed gender equality.

“I am proud to be a woman and a feminist, and this evening I am extremely proud to stand before you on this significant day, which serves as a reminder to all of us of how far we’ve come, but also amid celebration a reminder of the road ahead,” she said.

Meghan knew from a young age that she could make a difference. When she was 11 years old, Meghan wrote to Procter & Gamble after seeing an advertisement for Ivory dishwashing soap that declared, “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”

“At age 11, I had seen a commercial at the time that I thought to be very sexist,” she said on International Women’s Day panel in 2019. “Truth be told, at 11 I don’t think I even knew what sexism meant. I just knew that something struck me internally that was telling me it was wrong, and I knew that it was wrong. And using that as my moral compass and moving through from the age of 11, at that age I was able to change this commercial.”

She added, “It really set up the trajectory for me to say, if there was a wrong, if there is a lack of justice, and there is an inequality, then someone needs to do something. And why not me?”

Meghan’s tactic was effective: The company ended up changing their slogan from “women all over America” to “people all over America.”

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She continued to learn about injustices against women throughout the world. The former actress worked with organizations like One World Vision to learn about the challenges women and girls living in Dubai and Mumbai. She also served as an ambassador for United Nations Women.

“Once I became old enough to travel, specifically to developing countries and see what was happening abroad, I think for me what really resonated was the lack of education for girls, and how that has a ripple effect on so many things,” she said.