The expectant mom, 37, gave a powerful speech after the couple touched down in New Zealand on Sunday for the last leg of their 16-day tour. Meghan and Harry joined Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor Dame Patsy Reddy at Government House in Wellington for a welcoming reception, and to celebrate New Zealand’s 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
“We are proud to be able to join you tonight in celebrating the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in your country,” Meghan began her speech while standing in front of a portrait of Queen Elizabeth. She opened her speech with a formal Maori greeting, and also accessorized her black Gabriela Hearst dress with a necklace with a traditional Maori design.
“The achievements of the women of New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired,” she said. “In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolizes.”
“Because yes, women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness,” Meghan continued.
“Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community, the involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world that you are a part of.”
The royal emphasized that “women’s suffrage is not simply about the right to vote for women, but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of all people, including those members of society who have been marginalized whether for reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation, to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.”
“So bravo, New Zealand, for championing this right 125 years ago — for the women who well deserve to have an active voice and acknowledged vote, and for all of the people that this effort has paved the way for globally,” said Meghan. “We all deeply thank you.”
Meghan has long been a vocal feminist, working 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. And when she was just 11 years old, she wrote to Procter and Gamble because she thought one of their advertisements was sexist. Her tactic was effective: The company ended up changing their slogan to make it more gender inclusive.
This marks Meghan’s third speech on the couple’s tour: she first spoke in Fiji about the importance of women’s education, and also gave a speech at the Invictus Games’ closing ceremony.
She closed out the speech on Sunday by quoting Kate Sheppard, New Zealand’s most prominent figure in the women’s suffrage movement: “In the words of your suffragette, Kate Sheppard, ‘All that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome.'”