Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has just made her first speech of the current royal tour — and we’re a big fan of her chosen topic, girls’ education.
Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, are currently in Fiji, having already spent several days in Australia. Next, they’ll be heading to Tonga and New Zealand, before returning to Australia.
On their second day in Fiji, on Tuesday, Meghan and Harry headed to the University of the South Pacific in Suva to address students.
Take Action: Encourage Girls & Women to Follow Their Dreams
And Markle, herself a graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois, in the United States, spoke passionately about the importance of education.
“The journey of higher education is an incredible, impactful, and pivotal one,” she said. “I am also fully aware of the challenges of being able to afford this level of schooling for many people around the world, myself included.”
“It was with scholarships, financial aid programmes, and work study from my earnings from a job on campus that went directly towards my tuition that I was able to attend university, and without question it was worth every effort,” she continued.
A powerful first speech as the Duchess of Sussex: “Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital.”— Omid Scobie (@scobie) October 23, 2018
(Video 1 of 2) pic.twitter.com/jZnR6rEvF2
“Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive education that they want but, more importantly, the education that they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital,” she said.
“Providing them with access to education is the key to economic and social development, because when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures — not only for themselves but for all of those around them,” she said. “And while progress has been made in many areas across the Commonwealth, there’s always room to offer more opportunities to the next generation of young adults and specifically to young women.”
She also used the occasion to announce two new grants to be awarded to Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, which Queen Elizabeth II is patron of, and which works to support universities to promote equality.
The grants will go to supporting each of the universities in running workshops to empower their female staff.
“This means that female faculty embers are able to encourage others to follow in their footsteps and enter higher education, and that more women become part of the decision-making process in academic institutions,” Markle added.
“Grants like this will ensure that women are provided with the training and skills to operate effectively in their role, and that those with leadership potential are given the opportunity to be heard and recognised at the most senior level,” she said.
“My husband Harry and I wish you all the very best of luck as you continue your studies and your work,” she said. “Your efforts now will help to make a positive future for each of you and your communities at large.”
The speech was reportedly only Meghan’s second as a member of the British royal family — the first being a speech at the launch of her charity cookbook, created with members of the Grenfell community in London, last month.
It comes as Markle was also named one of the top 100 most influential black people in Britain on the annual Powerlist, which honours the UK’s most influential people of African and African Caribbean heritage.
Ric Lewis topped the list, as chief executive and chairman of Britain’s largest black-owned and led company, Tristan Capital Partners, reported the Guardian. Lewis is also founder of the Black Heart Foundation, which supports young people in accessing a greater range of opportunities — such as through offering funding for further education.