Meghan Markle’s First Royal Tour Speech Has A Message About Education For Young Girls

"The journey of higher education is an incredible, impactful and pivotal one.”

During a visit to the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, Meghan Markle took to the podium to speak about the importance of education, especially as it applies to women and girls in developing countries. 

Her speech — which also happened to be her first royal tour speech — included stories from the Duchess of Sussex's own experiences in education. Markle herself graduated from Northwestern University, where she double majored in theater and international relations.

"As a university graduate, I know the personal feeling of pride and excitement that comes with attending university. From the moment you receive your acceptance letter to the exams you spend countless late nights studying for, the lifelong friendships you make with your fellow alumni to the moment that you receive your diploma, the journey of higher education is an incredible, impactful and pivotal one," she said, according to People.

"I am also fully aware of the challenges of being able to afford this level of schooling for many people around the world, myself included," Markle added. "It was through scholarships, financial aid programs and work-study where my earnings from a job on campus went directly towards my tuition — that I was able to attend university. And, without question, it was worth every effort."

Markle continued: 

"Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital. When girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but for all of those around them. And while progress has been made in many areas across the Commonwealth, there is always scope to offer more opportunities to the next generation of young adults, and specifically to young women."

That said, Markle announced that there would be two new grants would be awarded to Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific, "allowing each of them to run workshops which empower their female staff."

In addition to her speech, Kensington Palace tweeted that Markle and Prince Harry met with Elisha Azeemah Bano during their visit to the university. Bano is the founder of the Act It Network and a member of the Queen's Young Leaders. The Queen's Young Leader Award recognizes "exceptional people," ages 18 to 29, "from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives," it says on its website

This is certainly not the first time that Markle has used her platform to promote women's rights and equality: when she was just 11, she advocated for gender equality after seeing a sexist advertisement for soap. In 2014, she became an official Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership for United Nations Women. In this role, she visited Rwanda, which NBC Los Angeles notes has the highest percentage of women in parliament, and where she met female refugees. More recently, she wrote the foreword for a charitable cookbook — created by female chefs — to benefit those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. 

Glamour magazine points out that though Kensington Palace hasn't announced Markle's official patronages, she'll most likely continue focusing on important issues surrounding women. 

Cover image: Pool / Getty Images Entertainment

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