We love her more than ever. On Tuesday, Meghan Markle checked her notes during an impassioned speech about gender equality in education, and the rare move makes the Duchess of Sussex even more relatable. So, while she typically doesn’t rely on notecards, we adore the fact that she wasn’t ashamed to do just that to ensure she really drove home her important message.
In her capacity as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), Meghan attended a roundtable discussion on the topic of higher education. “Sometimes access to education can seem so big, you wonder where to even begin. So you begin with one student, or one school, you simply begin. And that’s when we see change,” Meghan told the group. “Higher education is such a key element for growth — economic growth, and personal growth and development. When a woman is empowered, it changes absolutely everything in the community.”
Before wrapping up her speech, Meghan temporarily broke the gravitas with which she was speaking to joke, “It’s very exciting today. And I will use a notecard for this because, my goodness, it’s this last bit that I can’t screw up!” She then revealed three gender grants to improve university access for women, along with four new scholarships.
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This morning, The Duchess of Sussex went back to college! Joining students and educators at The University of Johannesburg The Duchess was able to announce a new series of gender grants from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, of which she is patron. She was also able to announce four new scholarships to help students study in different commonwealth countries, allowing cross cultural understanding and an opportunity to deepen their educational studies abroad. One of the recipients of these grants shared his story of growing up on farmland in Kenya, where he paid for his education trading vegetables to cover schooling costs (cauliflower leaves to be exact!) He is now doing a research study on carcinogens in his country, its link to cancer – his work is helping to change practices and to save lives. The Duchess was so moved by the work being done across the education sector and to talk with such like-minded thinkers about the importance of access to education and the support needed internally. When the round table discussion this morning moved to the challenges faced in this sector and how daunting it can all seem, The Duchess said, “Sometimes access to education can seem so big, you wonder where to even begin? So you begin with one student, or one school, you simply begin. And that’s when we see change.” She continued by referencing a Martin Luther King Jr quote: “Take the first step… you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Since @the_acu_official Gender Grants were launch in 2016, 28 universities in 17 countries have benefited with a minimum of 600 beneficiaries participating in workshops supported by the grants. #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica Photo ©️ PA images
“The goal here is to be able to have gender equality, to be able to support women as they are working in research and higher education roles,” said Meghan. “And also to be able to have workshops, convene things that are really helping people understand the importance of gender equality.”
Meghan’s clear passion for empowering young girls and women has been readily apparent during her royal tour with Prince Harry and baby Archie. On the first day of their royal tour, Meghan and Harry singled out gender-based violence in Africa. She has also made a private visit to the post office where a 19-year-old female Cape Town university student was murdered. And on Thursday, she attended a breakfast meeting with a group of South Africa’s leading women in business in politics to address vital issues affecting women.
All of that while juggling an infant and the scrutiny of the media? We’d say this woman has earned the occasional notecard glance.