Meghan Markle has delivered her first public speech since stepping away from royal duties earlier this year. The Duchess of Sussex spoke at the virtual 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit on Tuesday. Wearing a blue sleeveless outfit and her long hair straight down, the American-born royal addressed “young women around the world who aren’t just poised to change the world, but have already begun changing the world.” “I want to share something with you. It’s that those in the halls and corridors and places of power, from lawmakers to world leaders to executives, all of those people, they depend on you more than you will ever depend on them. And here’s the thing: they know this,” Meghan said in her empowering keynote speech.
“They know that all of you, at a younger age than any modern comparison, are setting the tone for an equitable humanity. Not figuratively, literally,” she continued. “This is a humanity that desperately needs you. To push it, to push us, forcefully in a more inclusive, more just, and more empathetic direction. And to not only frame the debate but be in charge of the debate on racial justice, on gender, climate change, mental health and well-being, on civic engagement, on public service, on so much more. That’s the work you’re already out there doing.”
Meghan encouraged girls to keep challenging the norms and pushing. The Duchess believes it’s important “to acknowledge the paradox of how this progress is both aided and impaired by our digital space.” “Your generation is often referred to as the digital natives, and you understand that our online world has the power to affirm and support as much as it does to harm, but we are not meant to be breaking each other down. We are meant to be building each other up,” she said. “So use your voice both on and offline to do just that. Build each other up, support each other.”
The Duchess noted that “there will always be negative voices and sometimes those voices can appear to be outsized, and sometimes they can appear to be painfully loud.” “But you can and will use your own voices to drown out the noise. Because that’s what it is, it is just noise. But your voices are those of truth. And hope. And your voices can and should be much louder,” she said. “I know you have already done so much and made so many people’s lives better. The moment we are living through right now asks all of us to do more. It’s a moment where your voices, and your action, have never been more urgently needed.”
Meghan stressed that believing in “true equality is not enough.” She explained, “It’s going to take more than belief, we have to work for it every day, even when it’s hard and even when it makes others feel uneasy. We have to speak up for ourselves and we have to speak out for others who struggle to be heard.”
The Duchess, who stepped away from royal duties in March, reflected on her own experience in following her beliefs. “Look, sometimes it’s not obvious what to do. Often, it’s fear that paralyzes us and stops us from being brave and being bold. But don’t underestimate that you have some of the answers. Don’t underestimate your ability to push through the fear,” Meghan said. “You have, rooted in your convictions, the ability to craft a world that you know is just and kind and your gut will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong; what’s fair and unfair. The hardest part and it was the hardest part for me is to chase your convictions with action.”
The mom of one concluded her speech telling the summit attendees that she along with her husband Prince Harry and their son Archie Harrison will be “cheering” them on as they “continue marching, advocating, and leading the way forward.” A source close to Meghan told HOLA! USA’s sister brand HELLO! that Meghan “strongly believes that the next generation of girls and young women have incredible power and have already shown themselves to be leaders beyond their years: on racial justice, climate change, mental health, civic engagement, public service, and much more. They are a generation that is challenging norms, enacting real-world change, and leading global movements. She says that they are not only ‘poised to change the world’, she believes they have ‘already begun.’”
The Girl Up Leadership Summit, presented by P&G, kicked off on July 13 bringing together young leaders and equality activists to build their skills as changemakers. The theme for this year’s virtual three-day event is “We Need To Talk,” which will push conversations about issues intersecting with gender equality, i.e. representation in STEM and sports, access to education, and how to create solutions for gender-based violence. Girl Up, an initiative that was founded by the UN Foundation in 2010, helps girls access their inner power to advance the skills, rights, and opportunities of girls everywhere.