Meghan Markle has urged girls and young women to “own the conversation” and push for true equality in a powerful speech at this year’s Girl Up Leadership Summit. She said she believes the world is on the precipice of transformation and girls have the power to shape its direction.
The Duchess of Sussex was joined by many other big names for the virtual event sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
“I want to share something with you,” Markle said at the beginning of her keynote.
“It’s that 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,” she said. “And here’s the thing: they know this.”
Markle said the moment we are currently living through asks girls and young women to do more to push for equality.
“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 and to not only frame the debate but to be in charge of the debate.
“On racial justice, on gender, climate change, mental health and wellbeing, on civic engagement, on public service, on so much more, that’s the work you are already out there doing.
“Girl Up members are organising Black Lives Matter protests around the world. You’re creating films. You’re creating films that encourage your peers to become activist leaders. You are reforming the criminal justice system. You are telling your school boards we need more mental health resources for all ages. You’re leading coalitions to end gun violence. You are standing up and demanding to be heard, yes. You are also demanding to own the conversation.”
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Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex, shares a special message with the 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit! Hear her advice for young, global leaders and how we all can work together towards a better world for all. 🌎🎉✨ Please note that any use of this footage of the 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit event must be separately approved by The Duchess’ team. Please email [email protected] for more information
“The growth and change you’re pursuing might not feel like anything day to day, but when you look back, I promise you’ll see it all adds up,” she said.
“I am extraordinarily proud of what you’ve already accomplished. Please continue to honour the conviction and compassion that’s awoken within you.
“I will be cheering you on, so will my husband, so will Archie, as you all continue marching, advocating, and leading the way forward.”
Michelle Obama dedicated her speech to girls’ education, on behalf of the Girls Opportunity Alliance, touching on the changes girls around the world are experiencing in their education due to COVID-19.
“We know from past crises like Ebola that the struggles that many girls already face are worsened in times like these,” she said.
“Violence at home, child marriage and teen pregnancy, economic hardship, and caretaking responsibilities within families.
“Challenges like these are made even more stark in times of crisis and that, of course, includes education.”
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In case you missed it, Former U.S. First Lady @MichelleObama shared a special message at our 2020 @GirlUpCampaign Leadership Summit on behalf of @GirlsOpportunityAlliance! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for many more inspiring speakers, global panelists, incredible workshops and more! 🎉 Please note that any use of this footage of the 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit event must be separately approved by Mrs. Obama team. Please email [email protected] for more information
Obama cited some statistics from the Malala Fund, that predicts when students are eventually allowed back into classrooms around the world, an additional 10 million girls of secondary school age could remain out of school.
“We can’t let these girls be forgotten during this crisis. The stakes are just too high,” she said.
“When we give girls the chance to learn, we give them the opportunity to fulfil their potential, build healthier families, and contribute to their countries, economies, for generations to come.”
All of the speeches made at the Girl Up Leadership Summit 2020 can be found on their Instagram page.