Inspiring Thursday: Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex

“Women don’t need to find their voice. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen.”

Meghan Markle was born in 1981 in Los Angeles, California. During her studies at Northwestern University, she started to pursue her acting career by taking several minor roles in movies and TV series. In 2011, Markle joined the cast of the TV series Suits and gained her breaking role of attorney Rachel Zane. In 2016, it became public that Meghan Markle started to date Prince Harry, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. Soon after that, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got engaged. As a result, Markle ended her acting career, closed her personal blog about inspirational women and all her social media accounts. In May 2018, Meghan Markle got married to Prince Harry and became a part of the British royal family gaining the title Duchess of Sussex.

Although Meghan Markle became most famous after her marriage to Prince Harry, she was an outspoken feminist activist a long time before that. As 11 years old girl, she was so outraged by a dish soap commercial by Proctor and Gamble with the tag line: “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans,” that she wrote a letter of complaint to both the company and Hilary Clinton, who was First Lady at the time. Both of them replied and P&G changed the commercial’s tagline a month later.

During her acting years, she repeatedly stepped up and spoke about sexism. In Suits, she declined to wear outfits that showed too much and challenged show creators to stop sexualizing her character.

In 2015, she became a UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership. As an addition, in 2017 she traveled to Delhi and Mumbai with World Vision to meet girls and women who were impacted by the stigmatization of menstrual health. As a result, she wrote an article to raise awareness of how the lack of menstrual hygiene products affects girls’ education in these countries.

After taking her role as a senior member of the royal family, she continued to spread awareness as much as possible. During their first royal tour, she gave a speech about the struggles women face when it comes to accessing their right to an education. During the same tour, she also spoke about women suffragettes in New Zealand. Moreover, in 2019, the Duchess of Sussex spoke about her growing platform as a women’s advocate during the panel for International Women’s Day at King’s College in London.

In January 2020, Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they were stepping back from their role as senior members of the royal family, and would balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America. Duchess’s final engagement as a senior member was a visit to Robert Clack School on March 7 ahead of International Women’s Day where she called on teenage boys to “value, appreciate, and protect” the women in their lives.

After stepping down, the Duchess of Sussex became less active. However, during that time she spoke about topics such as feminism, Black Lives Matter, and political participation. In November 2020, she shared via an article written for the New York Times that she experiences a miscarriage with her second child and called for the end of stigma and silence when it comes to this topic.

Although some of the steps Duchess of Sussex took can be a little bit controversial for someone, it must be recognized that her role and activism brought feminism closer to people.

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex is not only an example of a fairytale princess but first of all, she is an example that hard work, activism, and encouragement to speak can have an enormous impact on women but also men all around the World.

Written by WAVE Intern Mária Trubanová