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Meghan Markle 40th birthday: Best feminist quotes

'Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness'

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 04 August 2021 10:42
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Aside from being the Duchess of Sussex, having starred on US legal drama Suits and her philanthropic work, over the years Meghan Markle has become widely known for her strong stance on feminism.

When the former actor married Prince Harry in May 2018, the biography about her life which appeared on the royal family's website that same day included a line from a speech delivered by the duchess at the 2015 UN Women Conference: "I am proud to be a woman and a feminist."

At 11 years old, the native Californian wrote a letter to soap manufacturer Procter & Gamble imploring them to change the wording of a sexist advertisement, which they subsequently did.

In October 2018, the duchess was praised for delivering a "powerful" speech about women's suffrage in New Zealand in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of women achieving the right to vote in the country.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the right to vote.

“The achievements of the women in New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired,” Meghan said at Government House in Wellington.

“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness. Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote, but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community.”

The duchess has also guest edited the September issue of British Vogue, titled: "Forces for Change."

The royal selected 15 women to appear on the cover, all of whom she "admires".

Meghan guest-edited an issue of British Vogue.

The roster included Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand; Laverne Cox, LGBT+ advocate and actor; Greta Thunberg, climate change campaigner and student; and feminist author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, among others.

In her guest editor's letter, Meghan said she was "deeply honoured" to have worked on the magazine issue over a seven-month period alongside British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.

“To the women who have taken my aspirations for this issue and brought them to life by being a part of this time capsule, both on the cover and in-book, I am so grateful; you are inspirations to me and I’m humbled by your support. And to you, the reader, thank you – and I hope you enjoy," the duchess wrote.

As the duchess marks her 40th birthday, we have taken a look back at the numerous moments throughout her life during when the royal championed gender equality.

Read on for Meghan’s best feminist quotes on everything from being an advocate of female education to celebrating women’s suffrage.

On looking after yourself

“Be kind to yourself. Truly, if we treated ourselves as well as we treated our best friends we would be a million miles ahead of the game. There’s this great Georgia O’Keefe quote that resonates with me: ‘I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain, and I am quite free.’”

On breaking glass ceilings

“With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings. And, if I’m lucky enough, to inspire.” (Elle, 2016)

On what it means to be a feminist

“No matter what you look like, you should be taken seriously. I think it’s really great to be able to be a feminist, and be feminine. To embrace both.” (Interview with Larry King, 2016)

On stigma around menstruation and female education

“Imagine a world where the female leaders we revere never achieved their full potential because they dropped out of school at the age of thirteen. In the western world this is challenging to fathom, but for millions of young women globally, this remains their harsh reality for a staggering reason. From sub-Saharan Africa to India, Iran, and several other countries, the stigma surrounding menstruation and lack of access to proper sanitation directly inhibit young women from pursuing an education.” (Time, 2017)

On the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements

“I hear a lot of people saying when speaking about girls’ empowerment, finding and knowing their worth, or women’s empowerment as well, you will often hear people say: “You’re helping women find their voices.” And I fundamentally disagree with that, because women don’t need to find the voice – they have a voice, they need to be empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen. And I think right now in the climate that we’re seeing with so many campaigns, with #MeToo and Time’s Up, there is no better time than to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them, men included in that.” (The Royal Foundation Forum, 2018)

On gender stereotypes in cleaning adverts

“I don’t think it is right for kids to grow up thinking these things, that just mum does everything.” (At 11 years old onNick News, 1993)

On supporting women’s voices

“Women make up more than half of the world’s population and potential, so it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making. The way that we change that, in my opinion, is to mobilize girls and women to see their value as leaders, and to support them in these efforts.” (UN Women Conference, 2015)

On women’s suffrage

“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness. Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote, but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community.” (At Government House in New Zealand for 125th anniversary of women achieving right to vote in country, 2018)

On dressing like a feminist

“You don’t have to play dress up to be a feminist. You are a feminist exactly the way you are. You can be a woman who wants to look good and still stand up for the equality of women. There’s no uniform for feminism; you are a feminist exactly the way you are.” (Create and Cultivate, 2016)

On taking action to achieve equality

“It is said that girls with dreams become women with vision. May we empower each other to carry out such vision – because it isn’t enough to simply talk about equality. One must believe it. And it isn’t enough to simply believe in it. One must work at it. Let us work at it. Together. Starting now.”(UN Women Conference, 2015)

On looking after yourself

“Be kind to yourself. Truly, if we treated ourselves as well as we treated our best friends we would be a million miles ahead of the game. There’s this great Georgia O’Keefe quote that resonates with me: ‘I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain, and I am quite free.’”

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