Meghan Markle on Her Feminist Breakthrough at Age 11: 'I Don't Think I Even Knew What Sexism Meant'
"It started at 11, but still feels like it's just beginning!"
Meghan Markle knew from a young age that she could make a difference.
The Duchess of Sussex joined an International Women’s Day panel on Friday, where she spoke about her early beginnings as a feminist.
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,” the royal mom-to-be said during Friday’s panel. “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.”
Meghan, 37, continued to learn about injustices against women throughout the world.
“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 explained.
“You look at it and you can say, here are the vulnerabilities and the challenges that come about when they don’t have access to education. Early childhood marriage, susceptibility to trafficking, modern slavery, all of that,” she said on Friday. “But equally look at all the positives that come out of it when you do have access to education for young girls. How it affects the economic development, the GDP. Billions of dollars on the table are lost by girls being pulled out of education.”
Meghan added, “In those terms it would be impossible for me to sit back and not do something about it.”
Ahead of the International Women’s Day panel, Meghan has become vice president of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, of which the Queen is Patron and Prince Harry is President. The QCT exists to champion, fund and connect young leaders around the world.
“I think, you know, looking at my role, and I’m very, very privileged to have now with the QCT, just expands that platform to be able to go to 53 Commonwealth countries and do this level of work all across the globe because again, it is about global feminism, it is about a parity and equality for all of us,” Meghan said.
She added, “It started at 11, but still feels like it’s just beginning!”