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Meghan Markle: ‘Continue to value and appreciate the women in your lives’


by Jennifer McShane
08th Mar 2020
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To mark International Women’s Day, The Duchess of Sussex chose to end her last solo engagement as a working member of the royal family with an impassioned speech on gender parity


Meghan chose to make her last solo engagement as a senior royal one that celebrated International Women’s Day, using the occasion to drive home the importance of both male and female support for gender parity.

She has always been an avid supporter of women’s rights in particular, and over the last two years has used her elevated platform to champion these.

In a surprise visit, The Duchess addressed pupils at the Robert Clark school in Dagenham during assembly.

 

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There was a special reason she chose this particular school.

Fifty 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 today, The Duchess 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,” she said.

“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.”

She continued: “You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends in your life,” she said, speaking directly to the boys in the room. “Protect them. Make sure they are feeling valued and safe.

 

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“It’s about all of us” 

She emphasised the importance of the day, not just for women, but the role everyone must play to ensure that awareness is created every day of the year.

“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. And that is all of the young women here, as well as the young men who play a very large part in this… It’s very easy to sometimes compartmentalise or silo this idea of International Women’s Day solely being about women – but it’s not – it’s about all of us.”

Main photograph: @sussexroyal


Read more: Meghan Markle dazzles in Victoria Beckham during London visit

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