Meghan Markle shared her leadership advice with young girls and praised their efforts to push toward a better and more just future with a video message shared on Tuesday as part of the U.N. Foundation’s virtual 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit.
The former actress and Duchess of Sussex who made headlines as she became the first biracial American woman to join the Royal Family when she married Prince Harry in 2018, before ultimately stepping away from their official duties and moving from the United Kingdom, spoke firmly about what it means to not only believe in your own convictions, but also to act on them.
“Continue to believe in yourselves, believe in what makes you unique. And don’t be afraid to do what you know is right, even when it’s not popular,” Markle said in the video. “Even when it’s never been done before. Even if it scares people. And even if it scares you a little.”
She went on to express that in those moments of fear or discomfort is where real change takes place “to reimagine our standards, our policy and our leadership to move towards real representation and meaningful influence over the structures of decision making and power.”
When speaking to the influence and power of women and girls in particular, Markle spoke to the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for swiftly tackling the coronavirus pandemic. With this, the mother to 1-year-old Archie emphasized the importance of empathy while looking toward future change.
“This is a humanity that desperately needs you to push it, to push us, forcefully, in a more inclusive, more just and more empathetic direction,” Markle said. “And to not only frame the debate, but to be in charge of the debate on racial justice, on gender, climate change, mental health and wellbeing, on civic engagement, on public service, on so much more. That’s the work that you are already out there doing.”
Markle credited the younger generation, and the digital-native generation, with organizing Black Lives Matter protests around the world, calling on school boards to provide more mental health resources and even creating gun control coalitions. Regardless of the challenge, she spoke from experience in saying that acting on your unique beliefs of what is right is the most vital part.
“You have rooted in your convictions the ability to craft a world that you know is just and kind, and your gut will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. What’s fair and what’s unfair,” she concluded. “The hardest part, and it was the hardest part for me, is to chase your convictions with action.”
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