Meghan Markle currently has her hands full as she wraps up her final royal duties with husband Prince Harry this week in London, but she wasn’t too busy to celebrate International Women’s Day in a big and exciting way. On Friday, the Duchess of Sussex surprised the students of Robert Clack School in Dagenham, England with a special assembly where she made a memorable speech which touched on a slew of women’s issues including gender equality and equal pay.
“When we thought about what I wanted to do for International Women’s Day this year, for me it was incredibly important to be with the women of our future,” she said to a room full of hundreds of children. “And that is all of the young women here, as well as the young men who play a very large part in this. Specifically coming to your school made a lot of sense for me because of this social justice and the impact that it’s rooted in.”
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50 years ago, women in Britain won the right to equal pay. That monumental moment began with one courageous and inspiring group of women in a factory in Dagenham, England. In 1968, facing a pay settlement that declared them less skilled than men, the sewing machinists of the Ford Motor Company walked out on strike. In the face of great pressure, they stood firm, and two years later the UK Parliament was forced to pass the Equal Pay Act, protecting and supporting working women ever since. To mark International Women’s Day, The Duchess of Sussex visited Dagenham to meet with Geraldine Dear, one of the strikers, and spend time with students at the Robert Clack Upper School to meet the town’s next generation of female role models, and talk to young women and men about the women who inspire them. • “Being in Dagenham is incredibly profound. Because as you can see with Geraldine and the other women who had the strength to really stand up for something that they knew needed to be done. This is the best example of no matter how small you might feel, how low you may feel on the ladder or the totem pole, no matter what colour you are, no matter what gender you are, you have a voice, and you certainly have the right to speak up for what is right.” – The Duchess of Sussex A lifetime advocate and campaigner for gender equity, The Duchess joined a special assembly to celebrate this remarkable local story, as well as recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of all women around the world. #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2020 #EachForEqual Photo © The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton
“I encourage and empower each of you to really stand in your truth, to stand for what is right – to continue to respect each other,” she added. “For young men, to continue to value and appreciate the women in your lives, and also set the example for some men who are not seeing it that same way. You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life – protect them. Make sure that they are feeling valued and safe. Let’s all rally together to make International Women’s Day something that is not just on Sunday – but frankly, feels like every day of the year.”
Meghan has had quite the whirlwind week while in London so far. The Duchess also attended the Mountbatten Festival of Music and the annual Endeavour Fund Awards in London with husband Prince Harry as they wrap up their official duties as senior royals. Back in January, the pair announced that they would be stepping down from their roles and will “work to become financially independent” apart from the royal family. The couple will be free of their royal responsibilities come March 31.
Check out the most romantic photos of Harry & Meghan here.