In their first joint public event since the coronation of King Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped out together last night to attend the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards where Meghan was awarded the Ms Foundation's Women of Vision Award, recognising her “global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls.”
As she accepted the award from famed feminist attorney Gloria Steinem, wearing a glittering gold Johanna Ortiz dress, she gave an incredibly moving and loaded speech that touched on the importance of “acts of service,” and vowing to stand up for “what is true.”
With Prince Harry and her mother Doria Ragland also in attendance, Meghan said during her speech that her mother’s subscription to s. Magazine, run by Steinem, informed her early activism. “I also knew that to my mom—to my dear mom who I'm honoured to have here with me tonight—I knew that the significance of these magazines was important. I mean, it wasn't a one off. She had a subscription!"
She spoke about the impact of seeing diversity in the pages of Ms. had on her, and how women from different career paths, like politics or astronauts, were highlighted.
"When I reflect on the time in my life, when I was young, the imprints that were etched in my mind, I can now connect the dots in a much better way to understand how I became a young feminist and evolved into a grown activist. Ms. was formative in that cocooning: It piqued my curiosity and it became the chrysalis for the woman that I would become and that I am today."
Speaking of her life today, which involves a media circus, she remarked that despite the tabloids, she finds her purpose in altruism and philanthropy. “The narrative on repeat that surrounded me allowed me to recognize that part of my greater value and purpose in life was to advocate for those who felt unheard, to stand up to injustice, and to be not afraid of saying what you know is true, and what is just, and what is right.”
The Duchess of Sussex capped off her speech with a call to arms, encouraging other women to find their voices, their causes, and their courage, and make a difference.
“I suppose the point is, it's just never too late to start. You can be the visionary of your own life. You can charter a path in which what you repeat in your daily acts of service, in kindness, in advocacy, in grace, and in fairness—that those become the very things that are recognized by the next wave of women, both young and old, who will also choose this moment to join the movement and make our vision for an equitable world reality,” she said.
“Because while, as my dear friend Glo [Gloria Steinem] often reminds me, there is still so much work to be done. And let's be clear: I, as all of you in this room know, that she will continue to do that vital work while wearing her black leather pants and signature glasses. She's also always reminded me that it's the community that we create in doing that work. It's this sisterhood, it's this togetherness, that's the joy in it as well.”
She concluded, “Work doesn't have to be hard work and it doesn't feel like hard work when we do it together. So I am so proud this evening to stand with such visionaries and even prouder to stand shoulder to shoulder with this community.”
Meghan has spent her life advocating for causes that cares about. At age 11, she single-handedly managed to change the sexist language in a dish soap commercial. From there, she penned a powerful essay for Time in 2017 on the stigma surrounding menstruation in the developing world. She appeared at the U.N. Women's conference on International Women's Day 2015. In 2016, Meghan traveled to Rwanda with World Vision to see how clean water could help change a community. As a World Vision Global Ambassador she traveled to India in 2016 to advocate for gender equality, health improvements and girls' education. In Canada in early 2020, Meghan visited Justice for Girls, a nonprofit in Vancouver that promotes equality and health for teens living in poverty.