Celebs

Before Harry met Meghan: 5 ways Meghan Markle has been an inspiration to us

While she may be new to the British royal family, Meghan Markle is already making an impact on the world. From her humanitarian efforts to her feminist standing, here are some of the ways in which the duchess-to-be has been an inspiration to us
 

Meghan Markle may be Prince Harry’s fiancée, but this is certainly not her only noteworthy role. The former Suits actress has used her platform of fame for advocacy, spreading positive messages and pushing for greater gender equality, racial representation and the end of poverty.

The gorgeous brunette is joining the British Monarchy with a strong voice and track record of instigating change and humanitarian efforts, not just a glittering crown and fancy title. If you haven’t already been inspired by the duchess-to-be, here are five ways in which Meghan has been an inspiration to us.

 

On women’s rights

Photo: The Royal Family/Facebook 

The 36-year-old has always fought vehemently for women’s rights and gender parity. She may not have known it at that time, but she became an activist for women’s rights at the tender age of 11. In 1995, while attending school in the States, a dishwashing commercial came on the television with a tagline that went, “Yeah. That’s where women belong – in the kitchen.”

11-year-old Meghan was outraged by what she saw and decided to write a letter to the then first lady, Hillary Clinton, Linda Ellerbee (American journalist), Gloria Allred (women’s rights attorney), and to the offending dishwashing liquid manufacturing company. She eventually received a response from Clinton, Ellerbee, and Allred, all of whom encouraged her to stand up for what she believed in. This incident sparked what would become part of her life’s work as an adult. Since 2014, she has been active in the UN Women community as an “Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership.”

More recently, the TV veteran broke royal protocol by commenting openly about the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns on the panel of The Royal Foundation. Instead of remaining coy and passive about touchy topics like sexual violence, Meghan continued to address the issue publicly in the forum. “I hear a lot of people speaking about girls’ empowerment and women’s empowerment – you will hear people saying they are helping women find their voices. I fundamentally disagree with that because women don’t need to find their voices, they need to be empowered to use it and people need to be urged to listen,” said Meghan at the panel.  Let’s hope so.

 

On diversity

Photo: The Royal Family/Facebook 

Some commentators believe that Meghan and Harry’s wedding will, in small but important ways, begin greater acceptance of African Americans in areas like the workplace. Meghan has always been outspoken about her biracial background and has been active in pushing for greater inclusivity.

In an 2015 essay for Elle, she wrote, “You push for colour-blind casting, you draw your own box. You introduce yourself as who you are, not what colour your parents happen to be. You cultivate your life with people who don’t lead with ethnic descriptions such as, ‘that black guy Tom’, but rather friends who say: ‘You know? Tom, who works at [blah blah] and dates [fill in the blank] girl.’ You create the identity you want for yourself, just as my ancestors did when they were given their freedom.” 

As the countdown begins for the royal wedding, hopes are mounting that the union will be a symbolic marker that will bring greater representation of black women, biracial women and colour of women in general in the workplace and all aspects of society.

 

On the stigmatisation of women’s health

Photo: World Vision Canada

We applaud Meghan for writing beautifully about the impact period taboos have and how they prevent women from reaching their full potential. In a story for Time, she wrote, “Based on societal ignominy in the developing world, shame surrounding menstruation and its direct barrier to girls education remains a hushed conversation.

As a result, both household dialogue and policy making discussions often leave Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) off the table. Wasted opportunity is unacceptable with stakes this high.” As Meghan’s life as a royal gets underway, we certainly hope that she will continue to push the conversation and lobby for menstrual health initiatives to be set in place.

 

On poverty

Photo: World Vision Canada 

Access to water and sanitation and stamping out the vicious cycle of issues are some of the issues that Meghan is passionate about, after all, she did travel to Rwanda in 2016 as a World Vision Global Ambassador, to see the challenges faced by impoverished communities when it comes to finding water that is safe for consumption.

Earlier this year, she also travelled to Delhi and Mumbai, India, to learn more about the issues that plague women in poverty-stricken areas.  While income equality, water and sanitation are not the most buzzy of subjects when it comes to humanitarian issues, the newest addition to the royal monarchy could have the power to change that perception.

 

On second chances

Photo: The Royal Family/Facebook 

Divorce or even falling out of love is a painful experience to go through. Meghan who is a divorcee (she was married film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011 and their union ended in a divorce two years later 2013), gives divorced and separated women hope, not just in finding someone else, but also being “okay” with being divorced and then marrying for a second time. The fact that this is her second marriage didn’t matter to Prince Harry or the stiff upper lips of the British monarchy are proof that it is possible to find love again after a failed marriage.

Meghan Markle has an amazing opportunity to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. We hope that she will continue to inspire and better the lives of those in need with her passion for charity.

 

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