World / Social Issues

Meghan Markle hopes to 'shine a light' on women's rights as British royal

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Meghan Markle, the actress fiancee of Britain’s Prince Harry, said on Wednesday that the time was never better to focus on women’s rights as she takes up her work with royal charities.

Markle, 36, was speaking alongside Harry and his elder brother, William, and wife, Kate, on Wednesday at a new annual event to showcase the work of the royals’ main philanthropic vehicle, the Royal Foundation.

She will become the Foundation’s fourth patron after she marries Harry at Windsor Castle on May 19. She has previously announced she is quitting her acting career and stepping down from her existing charitable work.

Markle, who has previously campaigned for the United Nations on topics such as gender equality and modern slavery, said she wanted to hit the ground running in her charity work and women’s rights were in her sights.

“Right now in the climate we are seeing so many campaigns — #MeToo and #TimesUp — there is no better time to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them — men included,” she said.

Markle said the goal was not to help “women find their voices.”

“Women don’t need to find a voice — they have a voice,” she told the Royal Foundation forum.

“They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen.”

Working women in Britain face a 100-year wait to be paid the same as men, with the pay gap standing at about 14 percent — unchanged over the past two years — according to the Fawcett Society, a women’s rights group.

The Royal Foundation was set up in 2009 by William and Harry and focuses on issues like helping young people, wildlife conservation, cyberbullying and supporting the military, notably through the Invictus Games for wounded or disabled veterans.

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