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Meghan Markle champions feminism with women’s suffrage speech

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Anna Brech
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Feminism is not a cause that Meghan Markle will shy away from, as she proved once again in her latest speech in New Zealand

Gone are the days when we see royal women relegated to the role of silent bystander with pretty clothes.

But feminism is one of those topics that members of the royal household  can still be reluctant to address, at least directly. 

Meghan Markle, however, is bringing a refreshing sea change in her wake. 

The Duchess of Sussex has already proved herself happy to subvert a series of royal protocols on her first official tour. And with this approach comes a willingness to stay faithful to her feminist principles.  

On her Southern Hemisphere visit with husband Prince Harry this month, Markle used her first public speech to advocate women’s education.

And earlier today, she took up the mantle of feminism once again,  with a speech to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

At a reception attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the city of Wellington, Markle shared her admiration of New Zealand women who had campaigned for the right to vote. 

“Yes, women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness,” the Duchess, who is expecting her first child next year, told the audience. 

“Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community, the involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world that you are a part of.”

Women’s suffrage, she said, symbolised “the basic and fundamental human right of all people, including those members of society who have been marginalized whether for reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation, to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community”.

“So bravo, New Zealand, for championing this right 125 years ago,” she added. “For the women who well deserve to have an active voice and acknowledged vote, and for all of the people that this effort has paved the way for globally.”

Meghan Markle: “feminism is about fairness”

It’s the latest in a roll call of acts that demonstrate just how committed former United Nation Women ambassador Markle is to her feminist agenda.

Rather than dampening her ideals, so far being an official member of the royal household seems to have provided the Duchess with a wider platform for advocacy.

Since marrying Prince Harry, Markle has worn all-black in support of the Time’s Up movement, and has chosen to support women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy as her first solo royal project.

She’s also shown her backing for female marketplace vendors working in Fiji and Vanuatu, and has issued a rallying call for young women around the world to be allowed the tools they need to succeed (namely, education).

All in all, not bad for a first few months’ work…

Images: Getty 

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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