Meghan Markle Celebrated International Women's Day Early with a Surprise School Visit
Long before becoming a royal, Meghan Markle has been a champion for gender equality. At age 11, the duchess had a feminist breakthrough after seeing a commercial for Ivory dishwashing soap that she considered to be sexist, and, ever since then, it's become her mission to advocate for women everywhere. So, it's only fitting for this year's International Women's Day that she inspire a group of young students.
On Friday, Meghan celebrated the global holiday honoring women ahead of time during a surprise school visit to the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham. Wearing a pantsuit consisting of tailored black trousers and a chic cream coat, Meghan gave an empowered speech addressed to the "women of our future" and the young men who are helping them fight for equal rights.
"It is such an honor for me to be here today," she began. "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 you young women here, as well as you, the young men, who play a very large part in this."
Meghan also highlighted the importance of the school's location in Dagenham, England, which she chose after learning about its sewing machinists strike in the '60s. According to the @sussexroyal Instagram account, 50 years ago, female workers at the Ford Motor Company walked out on strike over unfair pay — an event that prompted the passing of the Equal Pay Act in the UK.
"I think specifically coming to your school made a lot of sense for me because of this social justice and the impact that it's rooted in," Meghan told the crowd, before referring to retired Ford tailor Geraldine Dear, who was one of the 13 women that started the strike.
“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. 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 color 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.”
In her heartfelt address, Meghan also encouraged young men to advocate for the women in their lives not just on International Women's Day, but year-round. “Continue to value and appreciate the women in your lives, and also set the example for some men who are not seeing it that same way,” she said, adding: “You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life—protect them. Make sure that they are feeling valued and safe."
"Let's all rally together to make International Women’s Day something that is not just on Sunday—but frankly, feels like every day of the year.”