Two of the world’s most influential women just exchanged their thoughts on voting rights and feminism during an intimate discussion.
Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and feminist organizer and activist Gloria Steinem sat down at Markle’s home in Santa Barbara, California, on Wednesday. The conversation organized by the women’s empowerment media organization Makers took place on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted white women the right to vote.
Markle started the conversation by sharing how much she looks up to Steinem, a prominent figure in the women’s rights movement since the 1960s.
Markle and Steinem went on to stress the need for full voting participation ahead of the United States presidential election in November.
“If you don’t vote, you don’t exist,” Steinem said. “It’s the only place where we are all equal: in the voting booth. We not only have to vote but we have to fight to vote.”
She also voiced concern about young people who are least likely to vote.
Since Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex became friends with @GloriaSteinem, they've spoken of their shared beliefs surrounding women’s rights, the need for representation and the importance of voting. The exclusive Q&A is on MAKERS today, #WomensEqualityDay! https://t.co/NJ2FEYiFVupic.twitter.com/au4uN24wSi— MAKERS (@MAKERSwomen) August 26, 2020
“I can understand the feeling that they don’t think they have an impact,” Steinem said. “Yet, it’s more important that they vote more than anyone else because they’re going to be alive long after I am. And they are going to be suffering the consequences.”
Steinem hopes everyone will ask their neighbors if they’re voting to encourage full participation, and acknowledged the significant role women of color play in political elections.
While Black women make up only about 7% of the US population, they tend to vote at higher rates than any other demographic.
“Really, we’ve been rescued by women of color in all of our recent elections because of a vote of conscience and compassion,” Steinem said.
However, laws in several states disenfranchise Black American voters by stripping incarcerated people of voting rights, setting photo ID laws, and limiting early voting.
“I’ve been really concerned about voter suppression,” Markle said. “We can already see all the different challenges that we’re facing.”
Voter suppression disproportionately impacts communities of color and their ability to support policies and leaders that serve their needs. The COVID-19 pandemic poses an added threat as registering to vote has become more complicated with government offices closed and large events banned.
During their talk, Markle and Steinem made sure to address the importance of remembering that only white women received the right to vote when the 19th amendment passed in 1920.
They then broke down misconceptions about feminism, and Markle praised her husband Prince Harry, for being a proud feminist.
“I look at our son and what a beautiful example that he gets to grow up with a father who is so comfortable owning that as part of his own self-identification,” she said. “There’s no shame in being someone who advocates for fundamental human rights for everyone, which of course includes women.”
Steinheim wrapped the conversation by emphasizing the need to remove hierarchies between genders.
“Well, you know actually, ‘we are linked not ranked’ is the shortest way I’ve ever found to say what our goal is,” she said.
Global Citizen and HeadCount have teamed up to launch Just Vote, a campaign mobilizing young Americans to register to vote ahead of the 2020 election and beyond. As part of the campaign, your favorite artists and entertainers are offering exclusive experiences, performances, and memorabilia — and they can only be unlocked once eligible voters check their voter registration status. Learn more about Just Vote and how you can take action here.