Meghan Markle gives ‘powerful’ speech on feminism and women’s suffrage in New Zealand

‘Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness,’ the duchess said in front of a portrait of the Queen

Sabrina Barr
Sunday 28 October 2018 13:42
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Meghan Markle addresses crowd in New Zealand on 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in the country

Meghan Markle has been praised for giving a “powerful” speech on feminism and women’s suffrage in New Zealand on 125th anniversary of women achieving the right to vote in the country.

The Duchess of Sussex began with a Maori greeting, “tēnā koutou katoa” or "hello to you all" which received a round of applause from the crowd.

She went on to speak about her admiration for the country which became the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

With Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in attendance, Meghan then spoke of her admiration for New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

“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,” she told the crowd at at Government House in Wellington while standing in front of a portrait of her grandmother-in-law, the Queen.

“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.”

She then went on to explain how the fight for women’s vote is symbolic of all “members of society who have been marginalised”, whether on account of their “race, gender, ethnicity or orientation.”

Markle ended the speech by quoting the words of Kate Sheppard, who was one of the most eminent figures of the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand.

“‘All that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome’,” she said.

Many took to social media to commend the speech with one person describing it as “powerful”.

“I loved this speech. What Duchess Meghan has done in her first five months of being a part of the British royal family has been amazing,” one person wrote.

Another added: “I think Meghan is a fine role model for young women. It would be hard to find a better role model for my 17-year-old daughter."

The duchess has previously spoken about feminism at a 2015 celebration of International Women’s Day at the United Nations, where she serves as Women's advocate.

Then she said she was “proud to be a woman and a feminist,” a line that’s referenced in her biography on the British monarchy’s website.

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