On 14 July Meghan Markle gave a virtual keynote address to the UN Girl Up Summit. Forever First Lady, Michelle Obama gave the keynote speech the day before. Former First Lady and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton also gave a speech to this audience.
Girl Up was founded by the UN Foundation in 2010 as an initiative to help support UN agencies that focus on adolescent girls. Girl Up is a global movement focused on empowering girls to take leadership in all aspects of life. Girl up’s leadership development programs have impacted 65,000 girls through 3,500 Clubs in nearly 120 countries and all 50 U.S. states. they are inspiring a generation of girls to be a force for gender equality and social change. Read more here
The speech was timely, accurate to what we have going on worldwide, and most of all inspiring! We the #SussexSquad are extremely proud that we have chosen to fight inequality, injustice, racism etc alongside Harry and Meghan! We are fired up! Let’s go out there and do great things! This is nothing new for Meghan, she has always fought for social change and against injustice since she was 10 years old. She has always advocated and inspired women worldwide. It is refreshing to see her back to the UN to give this incredible speech.
The top 4 highlights of her speech were :
- Use your skills to re-build the world around you
- Use your voices on & offline
- Build each other up & support each other, don’t break each other down, build each other up!
- Speak out for others that struggle to be heard
Here is the full transcription of her speech!
It’s such a joy to speak to you today. To young women around the world who aren’t just poised to change the world; but have already begun changing the world. Last month I had the chance to speak to the 2020 class at my high school alma mater, which is an all-girls school in Los Angeles. I said that they shouldn’t see their graduation as an ending, but rather the beginning. The beginning of a journey where they can now harness their work, their values, and skills – all the skills they’ve learned – to rebuild the world around them.
Now, many of you have already spent years embodying—and yes, even enacting—the change you’d like to see in the world. Yet the opportunity that lies ahead for you is the same one that those graduates and millions of young women around the world have as well.
I want to share something with you. It’s that those in the halls and corridors and places of power—from lawmakers to world leaders to executives—all of those people, they depend on you more than you will ever depend on them. And here’s the thing: They know this.
They know that all of you, at a younger age than any modern comparison, are setting the tone for an equitable humanity. Not figuratively, literally. This is a humanity that desperately needs you. To push it, to push us, forcefully in a more inclusive, more just, and more empathetic direction. And to not only frame the debate, but be in charge of the debate—on racial justice, gender, climate change, mental health and wellbeing, on civic engagement, on public service, on so much more. That’s the work you’re already out there doing.
Girl Up members are organizing Black Lives Matter protests around the world, you are creating films to encourage your peers to become activist leaders, you are reforming the criminal justice system, you are telling your school boards we need more mental health resources for all ages, you are leading coalitions to end gun violence. You are standing up and demanding to be heard, yes, but you’re also demanding to own the conversation.
Another thing about those lawmakers and leaders and executives I mentioned earlier. Now many of them, better or worse, they don’t listen until they have to because the status quo is easy to excuse and it’s hard to break. But it will pull tightest right before snapping.
Women have always historically gotten a lot of, “Well, that isn’t how it’s done” or “Yeah, that’s an idea, but let’s do this instead.”
But when do we hear that as women? We hear that in the moments we challenge the norms.
So if that’s the case, I say to you, keep challenging, keep pushing, make them a little uncomfortable. Because it’s only in that discomfort that we actually create the conditions to reimagine our standards, our policies, and our leadership; to move towards real representation and meaningful influence over the structures of decision-making and power.
Despite what some might say, this reimagining is not a zero-sum game, where one side wins and the other side loses. Not at all. It is mutually beneficial and better for everyone.
Because of that, that path to get there will take all of us: it will take girls and women, it will take men and boys, it will take those that are black and those that are white collectively tackling the inequities and structural problems that we know exist.
I believe we are on the precipice of transformation. We can accelerate the pace of change, and you know what? We don’t have to be satisfied with the current speed of progress. What’s more, I think it’s important to acknowledge the paradox of how this progress is both aided and impaired by our digital space. Your generation is often referred to as the digital natives, and you understand that our online world has the power to affirm and support as much as it does to harm. But we are not meant to be breaking each other down; we are meant to be building each other up. So use your voice both on-and-offline to do just that—build each other up, support each other.
There will always be negative voices and sometimes those voices can appear to be outsized, and sometimes they can appear to be painfully loud. You can and will use your own voices to drown out the noise. Because that’s what it is—just noise. But your voices are those of truth. And hope. And your voices can and should be much louder.
I know that you have already done so much and made so many people’s lives better. The moment we are living through right now asks all of us to do more. It’s a moment where your voices, and your action, have never been more urgently needed. And we can take inspiration from women like Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who brought New Zealand together to swiftly and boldly tackle COVID-19, or Maya Moore, the WNBA star who has sat out from professional basketball since 2019 to free a man who served 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. And those are just two examples, as you well know there are so many others.
Believing in true equality is not enough — it’s going to take more than belief, we have to work for it every day; even when it’s hard, even when it makes others feel uneasy. We have to speak up for ourselves and we have to speak out for others who struggle to be heard.
Like them, I know all of you will use your voices courageously. And I also know that all of you will use them compassionately. Compassion doesn’t mean we shouldn’t feel anger and outrage when we see blatant injustice all around us—of course we should. But I challenge you to broaden that feeling. The Dalai Lama famously said, “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” Compassion means seeing the pain and suffering of others and knowing it’s our duty to try to help relieve it.
Continue to believe in yourselves, believe in what makes you unique, and don’t be afraid to do what you know is right even when it’s not popular. Even when it’s never been done before. Even if it scares people. And even if it scares you.
Under normal circumstances, we would have come together in person for this and I wish we could. Yet there is something interesting about each of you being in your own community right now. Because our communities are a drawing board for change. They’re where your values and beliefs can manifested and molded into something tangible.
Look, sometimes it’s not obvious what to do. Often, it’s fear that paralyzes us and stops us from being brave and being bold. But don’t underestimate that you have some of those answers within. Don’t underestimate your ability to push through the fear. You have, rooted in your convictions, the ability to craft a world that you know is just and kind. Your gut will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong; what’s fair and what’s unfair. The hardest part—and it was the hardest part for me—is to chase your convictions with action.
If you look at the breadth of the issues we’re facing right now, it is easy to get overwhelmed, I understand. So be where you are in the moment. The growth and change you’re pursuing might not feel like anything day-to-day, but when you look back, I promise you will see that it all adds up.
We make better communities and a better world for ourselves step-by-step. And the pace of those steps is getting quicker. It’s in looking at the aggregate, looking at the big picture, that you can see how far we’ve progressed.
I am extraordinarily proud of what you’ve already accomplished. Please, continue to honor the conviction and compassion that’s awoken within you.
I will be cheering you on, so will my husband, so will Archie, as you all continue marching, advocating, and leading the way forward.
14 July UN Girl Up leadership summit