The Duchess of Sussex began speaking out about women's rights as a young girl

By Stephanie Petit
October 08, 2020 10:51 AM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are joining forces with Malala Yousafzai to discuss a subject close to their hearts: the importance of women's education.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who relocated to California with their 1-year-old son Archie earlier this year, will take part in a live video chat with the 23-year-old Pakistani activist to mark International Day of the Girl on Sunday. The conversation, which will be streamed through YouTube and the Malala Fund's social media channels, will see the trio "discuss the barriers preventing 130 million girls from going to school and why it's essential that we champion every girl's right to learn."

Malala began speaking out about women's right to an education as a young girl — and was the victim of a gunman's assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism when she was just 15. She recovered and continued to advocate for female education. Malala went on to become a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, became the youngest-ever Nobel laureate at 17, and later operate the Malala Fund, which she founded alongside her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; Malala Yousafzai
| Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage; CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/AFP via Getty Images

Meghan also began speaking out about women's rights as a young girl. She was inspired to change a TV commercial at the age of 11, after having seen a Procter & Gamble commercial that advertised its Ivory dishwashing soap solely to women. She wrote to the company, and they changed their commercial.

Women's right to education has become one of Meghan's key causes, and she selected the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) as one of her first patronages after marrying Prince Harry. Established in 1913, the Association of Commonwealth Universities is the world’s first international university network and remains the only accredited organization representing higher education across the Commonwealth.

Meghan, 39, gave her first-ever royal tour speech on the subject of education at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

"Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital,” she said. "When girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but for all of those around them. And while progress has been made in many areas across the Commonwealth, there is always scope to offer more opportunities to the next generation of young adults, and specifically to young women."

Meghan Markle
| Credit: Phil Noble/Pool/Getty

It was also an important stop during the couple's fall 2019 visit to Africa, where Meghan attended a roundtable discussion with the ACU at the University of Johannesburg.

"Sometimes access to education can seem so big, you wonder where to even begin?" Meghan said during the event. "So you begin with one student, or one school, you simply begin. And that’s when we see change."

Meghan Markle
| Credit: Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images

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Prince Harry and Malala have actually crossed paths before. Both participated in the 2014 youth empowerment event We Day in London — and had a slightly awkward encounter backstage.

Co-founder of the event Craig Kielburger told HELLO! magazine, "Prince Harry put his arm around Malala for a photo and very loudly in the corner Malala’s mother in Urdu shouts, 'No, no no,' which translated to 'Not unless you marry her can you touch her.' The Prince was so red in his face at that moment and he was clasping his hands in the front, Malala was so embarrassed."