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Meghan Markle’s Speech in New Zealand Focused on Gender Equality

Meghan Markle’s speech on feminism and women’s suffrage during a recent Royal Tour of New Zealand has since inspired many.

On the 125th anniversary of women achieving the right to vote in the country, the Duchess of Sussex visited the Government House in Wellington to deliver her speech.

In Markle’s speech, she began by speaking on her appreciation for the country, since New Zealand was the first self-governing nation to grant women the right to vote in 1893. “The achievements of the women in New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired,” she stated.

“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness. 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,” Markle stated.

She went on to discuss how the fight for women’s suffrage represents “members of society who have been marginalized” based on their “race, gender, ethnicity, or orientation.”

Even before her status as a British Royal, Markle marked herself as an advocate for women and women’s empowerment.

She first discovered her passion for empowering women when she was 11 years old. While watching a television program at school in 1995, a commercial for dish soap came on screen, with the tagline, “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”

When a few boys in her class made sexist comments about women belonging in the kitchen, Markle went home and began writing letters to women in power like Hillary Clinton, Linda Ellerbee, and Gloria Allred. When she got a response from Clinton, she felt encouraged to continue working towards equality.

As an adult, Markle secured a role within the women’s agency of the United Nations in 2014 in which she stressed the need for equality between men and women, specifically as an “Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership.”

In this role, she spent time with the team of Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time, to learn about the issues at hand. She also travelled to Rwanda, which has the highest percentage of women in parliamentary positions.

Her role at UN Women allowed for Markle to call for programs that “mobilize girls and women to see their value as leaders.” When there isn’t room for them at the top table, she wishes to see women “create their own table.”

In addition to her work towards equality, Markle is “proud to be a woman and a feminist,” as she stated at the Beijing Women’s Conference in March 2015.

Upon her engagement to Prince Harry, UN Women stated that it “trusts and hopes that in her new and important public role she will continue to use her visibility and voice to support the advancement of gender equality.” Meghan Markle’s speech in New Zealand goes to show that she will do just that.

Featured Image by Genevieve on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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