Meghan: Empowerment of women ‘changes absolutely everything’ for communities
The Duchess of Sussex has told academics and students that when a woman is empowered it “changes absolutely everything” in the community.
Meghan was carrying out a solo engagement at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, while husband Harry is in Malawi on the penultimate day of their 10-day overseas tour.
She was greeted by scores of screaming well-wishers as she arrived for an Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) round-table discussion about the challenges faced by young women in accessing higher education.
The American former Suits star took on the role of the ACU’s patron in January from the Queen, who held the position for 33 years.
During the event, Meghan announced three new Gender Grants for the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University and the University of Western Cape.
“The goal here is to be able to have gender equality, to be able to support women as they are working in research and higher education roles,” she said.
“And also to be able to have workshops, convene things that are really helping people understand the importance of gender equality.
“True to what you said, when a woman is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community and starting an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that.”
She also spoke about her own experience of being able to attend university.
Meghan said: “If you don’t have the support that is necessary that you feel that you can keep taking the next step then you’re stunted in growth.”
She added: “I went to university. It takes a village, doesn’t it, to sort of piece it together for people to be able to finance that.
“Families chipping in, scholarship, financially all those things that were the reason that I was able to attend university.
“But at the same level you need to have that kind of support on the inside for educators to be able to give as much as they can back to those who are in the educational system.”
The duchess, who wore her hair down and was in a £95 khaki Banana Republic double-breasted trench dress, was greeted by Susana Glavan, director of the British Council in South Africa, and Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, vice-chancellor of the university.
Meghan is a passionate promoter of accessible education for all.
During the couple’s tour of Fiji last year, she announced new grants for ACU member universities in the Pacific, to fund learning initiatives aimed at empowering female university staff and promoting gender equality.
The Duke of Sussex, meanwhile, visited a health centre in Malawi on Tuesday to learn about the challenges it faces serving the local community.