She's marrying royalty, but Meghan Markle is already a feminist queen.
While the former Suits actress has been strategically dropping hints about the details surrounding her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19 (guests will include community heroes; wedding cake will include lemon and elderflower), Markle has been unapologetically outspoken when it comes to shutting down gender inequality.
During her first public speaking engagement alongside fiance Prince Harry as well as Prince William and Kate Middleton, the future royal didn't back down when it came to women's issues. "You'll often hear people say, 'You're helping women find their voices.' And I fundamentally disagree," Markle said at the first annual Royal Foundation Forum in February. "Women don't need to find a voice. They have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use them and people need to be encouraged to listen."
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Markle has always worked to elevate women's voices. "Women make up more than half of the world's population and potential, so it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making," Markle declared at the United Nations Women's Conference in 2015.
Her drive for gender equality was sparked "unknowingly and somehow accidentally" at age 11 when at school she saw a TV commercial for dish soap with the tagline: "Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans." As Markle detailed during her 2015 U.N. speech, "Two boys from my class said, 'Yeah, that's where women belong, in the kitchen.' I remember feeling shocked and angry and also just feeling so hurt ... something needed to be done."
So Markle started a letter writing campaign that landed her on a Nickelodeon news show. Within a month, the soap manufacturer changed the tagline from "Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans" to "Parents all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans."
"It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions," Markle said. "At the age of 11, I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality."
Her impact grew exponentially. After graduating from Northwestern University with degrees in theatre and international relations, the actress became a World Vision Canada Global Ambassador in 2016, travelling to Rwanda to promote the need for clean drinking water. She also acted as an advocate for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
"Women need a seat at the table," Markle has said. "They need an invitation to be seated there. And in some cases, where this isn't available, well, then you know what? Then they need to create their own table."
Now that we're at a watershed moment where women are making a habit of turning the tables and demanding change, we're watching the throne as Markle uses her new royal platform to push for change. "I think right now in the climate, we are seeing so many campaigns, #MeToo and Time's Up," Markle has said. "There is no better time than now to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them, men included."
God save the future princess!