Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Team Up with Malala Yousafzai for International Day of the Girl
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took part in a live video chat with the 23-year-old Pakistani activist in a conversation that saw 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."
"When young girls have access to education everyone wins and everyone succeeds. It just opens the door for societal success at the highest level," Meghan said at the start of the virtual chat, going on to emphasize how much the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the lack of access to education.
“It’s not just robbing a society of the cultural richness that comes with educating young girls," she continued. "It’s also robbing these young girls of childhood.”
Championing the fight for girls' education has been a cause near and dear to Meghan’s heart for years.
“What I had realized very early on was that when women have a seat at the table, conversations in terms of policy change, conversations in terms of legislation and the dynamics of the community are all shifted,” Meghan added.
“And when you have to see how you get a woman to embrace her voice, you have to start with where she is a young girl,” she explained.
Harry also spoke to the impact education can have on climate change.
“The importance of girls’ education to help defer climate change is absolutely critical,” he remarked, noting that education can help open economic doors, “which makes you less susceptible to disaster.”
“So much is at stake when we don’t give a young woman the opportunity to learn and to get an education," Meghan added.
In addition to focusing on their advocacy, Meghan and Harry have also been able to spend more time as a family throughout the past few months.
“We were both there for his first steps,” Harry said of son Archie. “His first run, his first fall, his first everything.”
“In so many ways we are fortunate to be able to have this time to watch him grow, and in the absence of COVID, we would be traveling and working more,” she added. “We’d miss a lot of those moments.”
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.
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.
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."