Well before she became the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle was a global force for good. And though we didn’t need more proof of this, new evidence of her activism has been unearthed.
A “never-before-seen” video of Markle, then star of the TV series Suits, advocating for girls’ education in India was recently released by nonprofit World Vision, ITV reported.
The footage, filmed in January 2017, shows the actress on a humanitarian visit to New Delhi and Mumbai, in partnership with World Vision. Markle is seen painting and planting flowers with young girls at a school.
"What we found is that the enrollment at this school went up at three times as much, once the latrines were built, so that girls had access to clean hygiene and bathroom facilities while they're at school," she says in the video.
More than 21,000 schools across India do not have safe and clean toilets for girls, according to government data. The lack of adequate facilities for girls at school contributes to nearly a quarter of adolescent girls dropping out of school altogether, according to nonprofit Dasra.
Access to sanitation and hygiene facilities is crucial, particularly for girls in school who need a safe and clean place to manage their menstrual health. Without such facilities, girls may be forced to miss out on education, which Markle called “unacceptable” in an op-ed in Time following her trip.
"During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill-equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely,” she wrote.
“All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl’s dream for a more prolific future,” she continued. “To break the cycle of poverty, and to achieve economic growth and sustainability in developing countries, young women need access to education.”
In addition to her new duties as a member of the British royal family, Markle continues to be a proud advocate for gender equality. In fact, she has used her new platform to further amplify her calls for women’s rights and empowerment.
Recently she sent messages of empowerment to sex workers — written on bananas in food packages delivered to those in need — and spoke about the importance of women’s suffrage during a visit in New Zealand.
"When we empower girls hungry for education, we cultivate women who are emboldened to effect change within their communities and globally. If that is our dream for them, then the promise of it must begin with us. Period,” she wrote in her 2017 op-ed.
But the message of gender equality and women’s empowerment, is one she continues to champion today.