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Meghan Markle Urges Young Women to Be Compassionate in Fighting Race and Gender Inequality

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle giving her speech at the Girl Up! Leadership Summit. Courtesy

Speaking at this year’s annual Girl Up! Leadership Summit, Meghan Markle joined a number of world leaders and public figures in the fight against racial and gender inequality.

In a speech originally hosted on the event’s virtual platform and now available via YouTube, the Duchess of Sussex focused on using compassion, as opposed to anger, as a tool of advocacy. In her nine-minute speech, she touched upon issues of racial injustice and gender inequality, noting that the possibility of change lies in the hands of women who are willing to “build each other up.” Also touching upon issues of gun violence, mental health, and the criminal justice system, Markle focused on redirecting power into the hands of the people, saying “those in the halls and corridors and places of power—from lawmakers to 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.”

Part of a segment titled Women in Leadership, Markle’s speech followed powerful messages and talks by other important women, including activist Dolores Huerta and former first lady, Hilary Clinton. Speaking to the importance of young voices and the power of advocacy, the former Suits actress said, “All of you, at a younger age than any modern comparison, are setting the tone for an equitable humanity. Not figuratively, [but] 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.” Noting the importance of owning one’s voice, she continued “to not only frame the debate, but be in charge of the debate—on racial justice, gender, climate change, mental health and wellbeing, on civic engagement, on public service, on so much more. That’s the work you’re already out there doing.”

Speaking about the difficulty of choosing the untravelled path, Markle prompted young women to look beyond taking the easy option. “Look, sometimes it’s not obvious what to do,” she said. “Often, it’s fear that paralyzes us and stops us from being brave and being bold. But don’t underestimate that you have some of the answers. Don’t underestimate your ability to push through the fear.” Encouraging her audience to look within, the Duchess said “you have, rooted in your convictions, the ability to craft a world that you know is just and kind. Your gut will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong; what’s fair and unfair. The hardest part—and it was the hardest part for me—is to chase your convictions with action.”

Complimenting her call to action with advice rooted in the words of the Dalai Lama, Markle championed the use of compassion in the fight for social justice. “Compassion doesn’t mean we shouldn’t feel anger and outrage when we see blatant injustice all around us—of course we should,” she said. “But I challenge you to broaden that feeling. The Dalai Lama famously said, ‘Compassion is the radicalism of our time.'”

Drawing on the importance of hope, Markle discussed negativity and the implications of “noise.” “There will always be negative voices and sometimes those voices can appear to be outsized, and sometimes they can appear to be painfully loud,” she said. “You can and will use your own voices to drown out the noise. Because that’s what it is—just noise.” Reiterating her stance on hope, she continued “Your voices are those of truth. And hope. And your voices can and should be much louder.” Finishing with a sweet reference to husband, Harry and son, Archie, the Duchess concluded by saying “I will continue you cheering you on, and so will my husband—and so will Archie—as you all continue marching, advocating, and leading the way forward.”

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