For the second time on her royal tour, Meghan Markle is using her platform to advocate for a cause close to her heart.
At reception at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday night, the Duchess of Sussex delivered a powerful speech about feminism in celebration of the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the country.
“The achievements of the women of New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired,” Meghan remarked to the guests in attendance, which included her husband Prince Harry, as well as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.
The newlywed also reflected on the bigger picture, reminding the audience of the symbolic meaning of the right to vote.
“In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolizes,” she said. “Because yes – women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.”
“Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote, but also about what that represents,” she continued. “The basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community. The involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world you are a part of.”
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speaks to invited guests during a reception at Government House on October 28, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Marty Melville – Pool/Getty Images)
Meghan also took an intersectional approach, stressing that every marginalized group – not just women – deserve the right to a voice in their community.
“Women’s suffrage is not simply about the right to vote for women, but also about what that represents,” she reemphasized. “The basic and fundamental human right of all people – including members of society who have been marginalised – whether for reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation – to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.”
The duchess fittingly closed her speech with a quote from New Zealand suffragette Kate Sheppard: “All that separates, whether race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome.”
Meghan’s speech marked her third time addressing a crowd – and her second time speaking about the rights of women – thus far on her 16-day royal tour Down Under.
On Wednesday, the 37-year-old highlighted the importance increasing educational opportunities for girls across the world, regardless of socioeconomic status.
“Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive,” Meghan told the audience of students. “And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital. Providing them with access to education is the key to economic and social development. Because when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but also for those around them.”
Considering the mom-to-be’s impressive background in activism, it’s no surprise that she’s taken her new royal role a feminist direction.
Long before she became a duchess, an 11-year-old Meghan successfully campaigned for Procter & Gamble to change a sexist commercial for dishwashing liquid.
Decades later, following the launch of her acting career, she became the UN Women‘s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership.