Meghan urges young women to challenge leaders to create positive change

The Duchess of Sussex has issued a rallying cry to young women across the globe to “push” humanity in a “more inclusive, more just, and more empathetic direction”.

In the closing speech at a gender equality and female empowerment summit, Meghan called on delegates to challenge “lawmakers and leaders and executives” because it was only by unsettling the powerful they would “create the conditions to re-imagine our standards”.

Her words were delivered online during the virtual event, and the duchess referenced her family, saying “I will be cheering you on, so will my husband, so will Archie, as you continue marching, advocating, and leading the way forward.”

In the keynote speech to the 2020 Girl Up leadership summit, she said: “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 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.

“Girl Up members are organising Black Lives Matter protests around the world, you are creating films to encourage your peers to become activist leaders, you are reforming the criminal justice system, we need more mental health resources for all ages, you are leading coalitions to end gun violence.

“You are standing up and demanding to be heard, yes, but you’re also demanding to own the conversation.”

Meghan is an active humanitarian campaigner – particularly on the topic of gender equality – who has spoken about women’s empowerment for a number of years.

The duchess’ activism famously started at a young age. At 11 she forced a soap manufacturer to alter an advert after she wrote a letter to then first lady Hillary Clinton and other high-profile figures complaining that it implied women belonged in the kitchen.

She went on to say women regularly get a verbal brush off from those in power, something heard “in the moments we challenge the norms”.

Meghan added: “So if that’s the case, I say to you, keep challenging, keep pushing, make them a little uncomfortable.

“Because it’s only in that discomfort that we actually create the conditions to re-imagine our standards, our policies, our leadership; to move towards real representation and meaningful influence over the structures of decision-making and power.”

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