During a bold conversation with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle reminded us that shattering glass ceilings often means suffering deep wounds.
In the interview with Winfrey that aired in the United States on March 7, Markle spoke with candor about her role as the Duchess of Sussex, wife to Prince Harry, mother to Archie and soon-to-be-mother of a baby girl, as well as the pressures that she has faced as a woman of color inside Britain’s monarchical system, which she termed, the “institution.”
Though the interview centered on her personal experience and immense pressures faced in becoming a new addition to the royal family, her experiences highlighted a conversation and truth as old as global imperialism itself: women of color bear the burden of profound physical, mental, and spiritual cost around the globe every day due to institutional racism that goes unchecked and unchallenged.
I was inspired by Markle’s bravery. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people around the world suffer from depression. In the United States alone, depression impacts 19 million citizens. A 2014 US-based NIH study found that 49% of Black women in a primary care setting reported symptoms of depression and 10% experienced suicidal thoughts. And while a 49% incidence of depression may be alarming, I worry that this figure may not fully reflect the prevalence of depression among Black women overall. Often, as women and girls of color, we are programmed to believe that it is our role to “push through pain,” “to work twice as hard,” and “respect the voices of others over our own.”
Markle’s interview stands as a clarion call for millions of women who are feeling trapped, unheard, unsupported, and belittled in their homes, communities, and workplaces. Her honesty and her young family’s commitment to truth-telling is a moment that women like me will never forget. Markle’s story reinforced the notion that allyship cannot be effectively demonstrated with statements, platitudes, and promises alone, but that decisive action must be taken in order to advance equity, inclusion, a sense of belonging, and safety for all.
That is why I am proud to lift my voice as a changemaker within the Global Citizen movement. In February, Global Citizen unveiled a Recovery Plan for the World, a year-long campaign and series of events that will aim to: 1) end COVID-19 for all; 2) end the hunger crisis; 3) resume learning everywhere; 4) protect the planet; and 5) most importantly, advance equity for all. With less than 10 years left to achieve the Global Goals, the world remains significantly off-track toward fulfilling the promise of ensuring that people of all genders, races, sexual orientations, and abilities have a chance to succeed.
Equity, the fair administration of justice, and inclusion are central and cross-cutting hallmarks of Global Citizen’s world recovery plan, and we believe that they are also essential to eradicating extreme poverty and achieving a better future. To make equity a reality, Global Citizen is aiming to mobilize new financial and in-kind resources and partnerships to support organizations that are seeking to fill the global justice gap, promoting human rights through innovative financing, and who are delivering impactful, cost-effective, and outcome-driven programs.
We have committed to establishing an Equity Response Network to deepen collaboration between Global Citizen and expert organizations working to promote equity and justice worldwide. This group of organizations will work across key thematic areas that include gender equality; empowerment of women and girls; racial equity and social justice; criminal justice reform; legal empowerment; inclusion of people with disabilities; and human rights for LGBTQ+ people worldwide.
As part of ourRecovery Plan for the Worldequity pillar, we have also committed to establishing a Business Leaders for Justice Coalition in collaboration with the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice. The goal of this coalition will be to increase ambition and leverage the commitment of the private sector toward more impactful commitments to justice. We know that more than five billion people worldwide lack meaningful access to justice and nearly 1.5 billion people have had an unresolved justice issue, and we are taking action to help reverse that trend.
Markle has summed this up best: “Every girl has potential. She has promise. She has the right to learn, the right to be heard, the right to play, and to discover. The right to be exactly who she is." I firmly stand in solidarity with her words because they emerge from centuries of reckoning and truth. And, I and many other women around the world like me, will continue ‘to do the work’ of advancing justice for all until they prevail.