Violence against women has been a central point of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's royal tour of Africa

By Stephanie Petit and Erin Hill
October 01, 2019 08:23 AM
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Meghan Markle is tackling important issues in education during her day of solo outings on Tuesday.

After spending the morning at the University of Johannesburg to talk about gender equality in education, the Duchess of Sussex visited a nearby school to learn how a local charity is working to raise awareness and end sexual violence in schools.

The Duchess of Sussex made a quick outfit change as she swapped her khaki Banana Republic trench dress for a green short-sleeve cotton shirt dress with a belted waist by Room 502.

Violence against women has been a central point of Meghan and Prince Harry‘s royal tour of Africa. Meghan encouraged women to fight for “respect, dignity and equality” after watching young girls take a self-defense class last week in Cape Town.

Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Upon her arrival, the Duchess was met by Nondumiso Nsibande, Country Director of ActionAid South Africa and Fiona Clark from the British High Commission. She then joined a conversation to discuss the nature of violence against women and girls and the work they are undertaking to tackle it.

Meghan will then privately visit a classroom at a local school where an after school girls’ club meets. There, the Duchess will meet a number of girls between the ages of 12 and 16 who are members of the club. The Teddy Bear Clinic group facilitator will introduce each student and invite them to explain how the club helps the girls and the various issues they deal with.

Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince Harry also spoke out on the issue of violence against women, specifically addressing his role as a husband and father to 5-month-old son Archie.

“No man is born to cause harm to women,” the 35-year-old royal dad said. “This is learned behavior and a cycle that needs to be broken.”

“So now, it’s about redefining masculinity, it’s about creating your own footprints for your children to follow in, so that you can make a positive change for the future,” he continued. “To me, the real testament of your strength isn’t physical, it’s what’s up here and what’s in here. Your strength is in your spirit, which for me means honoring and protecting my wife, and being a positive role model for my son.”

Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage
Meghan Markle
Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Duchess of Sussex also hosted a meeting with a group of South African female activists to get a better understanding of the work they’ve done in their communities, as well as the problems they face, which includes violence against women.

“We can learn a certain amount from the outside, by tracking it through the news, but it’s not the same as being able to truly understand what it’s like on the ground. Much of my life I have been advocating for women and girls’ rights, so this has been an incredibly powerful moment to hear first-hand from all of you,” Meghan said to her guests.

“I have been so moved by what I have heard. The leadership and strength shown by these women are remarkable, and at a time when the issue of gender and gender-based violence is at the forefront of people’s minds, I hope their voices will resonate and not only give comfort but also create change,” she added. “This is not just a South African issue, this is a global problem that can only find solutions with the attention and work of everyone, regardless of gender, status, politics, race or nationality.”

Meghan Markle
SussexRoyal/Shutterstock
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Meanwhile, Prince Harry is still in Malawi, where he is visiting the Mauwa Health Centre, Pharmacy in a Box and Youth Reproductive Health Outreach program. Through this projects, the UK and US have supported the introduction of solar-powered storage units to provide life-saving medicines where they are most needed.