Meghan Markle or, to be more specific, Meghan and Prince Harry, have been a topic of interest for quite a while. Why is this a problem? It isn’t really, except for the fact that, for the most part, media coverage has focused on the size of her ring and why she and Prince Harry hold hands in public more than William and Kate do.
There is a lot more to Markle than many people realize. First, and probably the most obvious of things, she is known for her role in the television series Suits, where she plays a remarkable woman that only scratches the surface of who she really is. Just like many other famous women, this actress has been using her platform to talk about important topics such as gender equality and women’s rights. Even before that, she became a female advocate by accident at the age of eleven by acting on what, to her, was common sense.
While at school, she saw a commercial for a soap whose slogan was, “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans”. When she heard two boys say “Yeah, that’s where women belong, in the kitchen”, she automatically knew it was wrong and that something needed to be done. Upon telling her dad, he recommended she write letters, and that she did. Markle sent letters to the then First Lady Hillary Clinton, Linda Ellerbee, a hostess of a kids’ news program, and attorney Gloria Allred. She even sent one to the soap manufacturers. It was only a matter of weeks before all three women answered with encouragement and the kids’ news program covered the story. About a month later, the soap manufacturer changed the commercial from saying “Women all over America” to “People all over America.” She did all that when she was only eleven years old!
More recently, she became a Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada and was a spokesperson for the charity One Young World. She has worked with the United Nations, and considers herself to be a “global citizen”. Let’s not forget her degree in theater and international relations, and her essay on being a biracial woman in Hollywood.
Why is all of this important? Because it means we can all make a difference. Every day women like Hillary Clinton, Emma Watson, Uzoamaka Aduba, Rowan Blanchard, Ashley Graham, and Tracee Ellis Ross are shown on television, social media, and the press as influencers that advocate for body positivity, gender inclusion, equal rights, among many other subjects. But not only famous people have influence; it is not only women who can stand up for female rights; you do not have to be “old” to be able to do something about it. Young girls and boys have as much voice and power as older citizens, and men and women like Markle’s father are crucial in furthering the progress made. Role models are needed to inspire others to take action.
Don’t know what to do? First off, inform yourself on the subject. If you see or hear something that you know is wrong, call it out. Join a women’s rights march or a march for a cause you believe in. Start a club at school. Get your family to talk about subjects close to your heart. Let your voice be heard.
Shyness is never a reason to remain quiet! Maybe you’re more comfortable protesting in silence or anonymity. Write a poem about the topic and try to get it published (it can be at a local paper, a digital magazine, a campus newspaper, even social media!). Design a t-shirt and wear it out, or you could even sell them. Make a painting that expresses all those thoughts and feelings.
Bottom line is, DO SOMETHING. Markle said it best when she expressed “it is not enough to simply talk about equality…one must believe in it…one must work at it.”
Women like Markle inspire others to stand up for what they believe in even if that belief is not the status quo. It might not be easy to make a major change in society’s way of thinking, but one can cause a small ripple that eventually leads to a giant wave. You don’t need to transform the entire world, but you can definitely do your part in your immediate surroundings just like Markle did in hers.
Here is a list of organizations that fight for equality and against violence, among other things, you can join, volunteer with, or donate to. Let’s become part of the solution, not the problem.
· Black Women’s Blueprint fights sexual violence against black women and girls.
· National Women’s Law Center works to create policies and laws that support girls and women.
· RAINN is the largest organization in the United States dedicated to ending sexual violence.
· Save the Children invests in the lives of young kids around the United States
· UltraViolet helps combat sexism and supports sexual assault victims.
· American Civil Liberties Union defends the rights established in the U.S. Constitution
· National Day Laborer Organizing Network improves the lives of day laborers in the United States.