She’s the woman everyone is talking about: Meghan Markle, AKA the new Duchess of Sussex, is bringing a wind of change to the Royal Family. But aside from her new role (and husband!), did you know that the actress is also a proud feminist?

Discover why Meghan Markle is the ultimate feminist icon.

 

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Her Education

Meghan Markle became an advocate for women when she was an 11-year-old elementary school student. She was in school watching television and saw a commercial for a dishwashing liquid with the tagline: “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” Two boys from her class said, “Yeah. That’s where women belong—in the kitchen,” which made her furious. When she got home later that day, she told her dad, who encouraged her to write letters. She contacted then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, as well as Linda Ellerbee, who hosted a kid’s news program, “powerhouse attorney” Gloria Allred, and the manufacturer of the dishwashing soap. After a few weeks she received letters of encouragement from Clinton, Allred and Ellerbee, who even sent a camera crew to cover the story. A month later, the soap manufacturer, Proctor and Gamble, changed the commercial from “Women all over America…” to “People all over America…”, which made her realize the impact her actions could have.

Meghan also volunteered at a soup kitchen in Skid Row, Los Angeles from the age of 13 to 17, where she continued to volunteer when she would return home to Los Angeles until the age of 22. She then studied in Theatre and International Relations at Northwestern University in Illinois, graduating in 2003 with a dual degree. During her time at university, she interned at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she learned to speak Spanish. She also studied French for six years.

 

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Her Charity Work

In 2014, Meghan Markle became involved with the organization One Young World, a global forum that gathers together young leaders in order to develop solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues, then was asked to become a counsellor for the charity. The following year, she became the UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership; she notably gave a speech on the importance of gender equality on International Women’s Day for UN Women in New York City. Before taking on this role, she spent time at the UN’s New York office to familiarize herself with their daily work routine before embarking on a learning mission to Rwanda. On this trip The Duchess met female parliamentarian leaders in Kigali and visited Gihembe refugee camp. In addition to her role with UN Women and One Young World, Meghan became a Global Ambassador for World Vision in 2016, with whom she visited Rwanda on a clean water campaign.

In 2017, Meghan undertook a second learning mission with World Vision: she visited India to bring awareness to girls’ lack of access to education. In Mumbai, she witnessed the work of the Myna Mahila Foundation, which empowers women through access to menstrual hygiene products and employment opportunities. Shook by that experience, she wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine.

Following the announcement of Meghan’s engagement to Prince Harry, UN Women said in a statement 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.”

 

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Her beliefs

Meghan’s entry into the UK’s Monarchy is anything but ordinary: she’s a biracial American self-described feminist, she has a thriving career, she’s older than her husband, she’s divorced, she’s the great-great-great-granddaughter of an emancipated slave… She’s unique! She showed those true colors during the wedding ceremony in so many ways, notably by wearing two dresses designed by women, by walking herself halfway down the aisle.

Meghan said that for her, gender equality means that Rwandan President Paul Kagame is equal to the little girl in the refugee camp who dreams of being president, that the UN secretary general is equal to the UN intern who dreams of shaking his hand, that “a wife is equal to her husband, a sister to her brother—not better, not worse. They are equal.”

The new duchess calls for programs to mobilize girls and women “to see their value as leaders” and for support to ensure they have seats at the top table. And when those seats aren’t available, “then they need to create their own table.”

 

Sources: NBC Los AngelesRoyal UKCNNGlamour UKTeen Vogue