Flashback Friday: Meghan’s 2015 UN Women speech

Flashback Friday: Meghan’s 2015 UN Women speech

In my Flashback Friday series, I’m going to be taking a look back at Meghan’s past articles, speeches, interviews, etc. that have to do with her charity work and activism. Meghan Markle, a UN Women ambassador, gave a speech on International Women’s Day 2015, March 8, at a UN Women conference in New York in which she discussed gender equality.

A video of her speech is at the end of the post, below is a transcript of her speech.

“I am proud to be a woman and a feminist, and this evening I am extremely proud to stand before you on this significant day, which serves as a reminder to all of us of how far we’ve come, but also amid celebration a reminder of the road ahead.

“I want to tell you a story that’ll sort of give context to my being here and my work with UN Women. When I was just eleven years old, I unknowingly and somehow accidentally became a female advocate. It was around the same time as the Beijing conference, so a little over twenty years ago, where in my hometown of Los Angeles a pivotal moment reshaped my notion of what is possible. See I had been in school watching a TV show in elementary school and, um, this commercial came on with the tag line for this dish washing liquid and the tag line said, ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans’. Two boys from my class said, ‘Yeah, that’s where women belong, in the kitchen’. I remember feeling shocked and angry and also just feeling so hurt; it just wasn’t right, and something needed to be done. So I went home and told my dad what had happened, and he encouraged me to write letters, so I did, to the most powerful people I could think of.

“Now my eleven year old self worked out that if I really wanted someone to hear me, well then I should write a letter to the First Lady. So off I went, scribbling away to our First Lady at the time, Hillary Clinton. I also put pen to paper and I wrote a letter to my news source at the time, Linda Ellerbee, who hosted a kids news program, and then to powerhouse attorney Gloria Allred, because even at eleven I wanted to cover all my bases. Finally I wrote to the soap manufacturer. And a few weeks went by and to my surprise I received letters of encouragement from Hillary Clinton, from Linda Ellerbee, and from Gloria Allred. It was amazing. The kids news show, they sent a camera crew to my home to cover the story, and it was roughly a month later when the soap manufacturer, Proctor & Gamble, changed the commercial for their ivory clear dish washing liquid. They changed it from ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans’ to ‘People all over America’. It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions. At the age of eleven I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality.

“Now, equality means that President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, whose country I recently visited as part of my learning mission with UN Women, it means that he is equal to the little girl in the Gihembe refugee camp who is dreaming about being a president one day. Equality means that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is equal to the young intern at the UN who is dreaming about shaking his hand. It means that a wife, it means that a wife is equal to her husband; a sister to her brother. Not better, not worse – they are equal.

“UN Women, as you guys know, has defined the year 2030 as the expiration date for gender inequality. And here’s what’s staggering, the studies show that at the current rate, the elimination of gender inequality won’t be possible until 2095. That’s another eighty years from now. And when it comes to women’s political participation and leadership the percentage of female parliamentarians globally has only increased by 11% since 1995. 11 percent in 20 years? Come on. This has to change. 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 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. To have leaders such as President Kagame of Rwanda continue to be a role model of a country which has a parliamentary system comprised of 64% female leaders. I mean, it’s the highest of any government in the world and it’s unbelievable. We need more men like that, just as we need more men like my father who championed my eleven year old self to stand up for what is right. In doing this, we remind girls that their small voices are, in fact, not small at all, and that they can effect change. In doing this, we remind women that their involvement matters. That they need to become active in their communities, in their local governments, as well as in the highest parliamentary positions. It is just imperative: Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, well then you know what, they need to create their own table. We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women’s political participation.

“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.”

I like Meghan’s speech a lot – I like the personal story and the statistics she included, and I like that Meghan is voicing her support for gender equality. I also like that not only is she saying women are and should be equal to men socially, etc. but she’s championing women being leaders and decision makers.

Honestly, it makes me sad thinking about Meghan having to defer to Harry because he’s the blood royal, and having to stop championing women in politics because royals don’t comment on politics.

I’ve never seen Suits, so I’ve never actually heard Meghan speak before. Her voice is higher and less commanding than I thought it would be. It’s not that her voice is weak, but it’s not sharp and commanding either.

Photo: video screengrab

14 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Meghan’s 2015 UN Women speech

  1. I’m liking it.

    I haven’t had a strong opinion of MM. I haven’t had much exposure to her either. But this post and the previous one have alerted me to me her charms. Diana would LOVE her.

    Her voice isn’t powerful, but it’s warm and expressive. Her “both worlds” post needs an edit, but isn’t bad for a celebrity blogger. The content is thoughtful.

    Defer to Harry? I hope they both know that ain’t really gonna happen. I’d be surprised to learn that’s what Harry wants. I suspect Meghan will observe most royal traditions and regulations, but it’s too late to turn her into a sheeple. She’s made her own way in the world–and done a respectable job of it.

    Kate and Will are going to have to up their game. If they’re willing, they can learn something from Meghan about passionate involvement, as opposed to going through the motions with due propriety.

    I’m not saying Meghan’s perfect. I don’t dislike Kate either: I accept her for the sheltered, trained-to-be-submissive, woman of privilege that she is. But I do think it’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. I’m hoping they’re not too snobby to let themselves be inspired and invigorated.

    1. I didn’t have an opinion on her either until I actually watched the UN speech. Then I looked into some of her writing and decided to start this blog. I like this stuff; I couldn’t care less about the lifestyle stuff.

      Royal spouses are supposed to defer to the blood royal, and in the past it’s been said that Harry likes his girlfriends to be available. But maybe this time is different, since he has been traveling to be with her, too, and not making her come to him every time.

  2. This reminds me of Emma Watson and the HeforShe campaign. I too like that Meghan brought up women need to be represented in politics for change to occur more rapidly, and that men should not be afraid of being outspoken supporters of women’s rights. And, I too question how someone like Meghan who has had the freedom and desire to be outspoken will feel having to have every little thing approved before she says a word in public. I have no doubt Harry would be supportive and she would be able to choose charities that are meaningful to her, but I still imagine it will be a sacrifice she will have to bear.

    1. I think it will definitely be a challenge for Meghan to fit into the royal lifestyle of not being about to talk about the things she wants to talk about. Hopefully she’ll find a way to work around that and still support the causes she wants to support.

  3. Well done Meghan! I like her voice, very warm and friendly and comparing to Kate, she acts like a self-confident woman.

    I do wish she will continue fighting for womens rights, although she is married to Harry.

    1. I disagree.I think she and Harry will continue what his mother began.Modernising the Royal family.She will have a voice.I think they will complement each other. He is very into continuing Dianas heritage and he is more free to do this.Also Charles has always been outspoken but is still the product of a very antiquated childhood.(U.K)

  4. My gosh, that is one terrific speech! Very relatable. I wonder if she wrote it herself. I especially like the inclusion of her father, his impact on her, as supportive men are very much needed and their inclusion is sometimes forgotten.

    I, too, feel ambivalent about a feminist suppressed by a position with the BRF. There is so much good she could do but at what cost? Also, Harry doesn’t seem like the kind of guy into equality, especially given his status. He still seems feckless as well. She has a career and he’s a trust fund kid. Look at what happened to the awesomely dynamic and overqualified Princess Masako, a cautionary tale in my books. Of course, Harry is the spare, so perhaps she, indeed, will be able to carve out a life of her own with him.

  5. “Honestly, it makes me sad thinking about Meghan having to defer to Harry because he’s the blood royal, and having to stop championing women in politics because royals don’t comment on politics.”
    -> so am I… I guess she will have to drop that appointment should she marry Prince Harry.
    Also – she is a fairly good public speaker both compared to her peers actors and the trio she might be associated to. You can see that she came prepared and practiced that speech a lot.

  6. I really like this speech, and I love how she states she’s a feminist. It would seem obvious since she’s speaking at UN Women, but I’m tired of seeing so many actresses that champion women’s causes avoiding that word or calling themselves “humanists”.

    1. I know. So many actresses are so frightened to say the word feminist. So it is refreshing to hear Meghan say it.

  7. Wonderful speech, she definitely has charisma. I just hope she won’t become stifled in the BRF and would be allowed to make many meaningful speeches if and when she marries in.

  8. What a killer delivery. She oozes personality and warmth. I watched Suits before she was involved with Harry, and even in the show she was very likable and a good actress. The speech itself is full of pathos.

  9. With the engagement seeming imminent, I thought I would look on the internet to find out who Meghan really is. I saw this speech and was hugely impressed, both by her content and delivery – without reading it, and so natural. She seems a wonderful young woman to me.

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