The Duchess of Sussex was clear about the power young girls have in the modern world, and how they are already, and can continue to use their voices for change.
Meghan Markle joined speakers including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg Priyanka Chopra Jones and Jameela Jamil at the United Nations Foundation's 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit, which took place virtually. In her speech, she praised young women for the ways that they have enacted change around the world, and encouraged them to continue.
"It's such a joy to speak to you today," she opens, "to young women who aren't just poised to change the world, but who have already begun changing the world."
She goes on to emphasise the power of young women, something they can often feel they lack in society:
"I want to share something with you," she says. "It’s that those in the halls and corridors and places of power—from lawmakers and world leaders to executives—all of those people, they depend on you more than you will ever depend on them. And here’s the thing: They know this.
"They know that all of you, at a younger age than any modern comparison, are setting the tone for an equitable humanity. Not figuratively, literally. This is a humanity that desperately needs you. To push it—to push us—forcefully in a more inclusive, more just, and more empathetic direction. To not only frame the debate, but be in charge of the debate—on racial justice, gender, climate change, mental health and well-being, on civic engagement, on public service, on so much more. That’s the work you’re already out there doing."
Meghan goes on to point out the achievements of young girls, including organising Black Lives Matter protests, making films, demanding better mental health resources, and campaigning against gun violence. "You are standing up and demanding to be heard, yes, but you are also demanding to own the conversation."
She acknowledges that the fight for a better world can be hard, saying, "The status quo is easy to excuse, and it's hard to break, but it will pull tightest right before snapping." She notes that women are often dismissed when they challenge society's norms, but she urges girls to "keep challenging, keep pushing".
The Duchess makes the point that our digital world can both accelerate and hinder progress, and the young digital natives she is addressing know that better than anyone. "You understand that our online world has the power to affirm and support as much as it does to harm."
"There will always be negative voices and sometimes those voices can appear to be outsized, and sometimes they can appear to be painfully loud. You can and will use your own voices to drown out the noise. Because that's what it is - just noise. But your voices are those of truth and hope. And your voices can and should be much louder."
She gives the examples of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern's effective response to the coronavirus crisis, and WNBA star Maya Moore's decision to sit out games since 2019 to free a man who has wrongly served 20 years in prison as just two women who have shown how they can positively affect the lives of others.
Meghan also urges girls not to be afraid to do what they know is right, even when it is not popular, or hasn't been done before. Watch her speech in full here.
Featured image: YouTube
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