‘Tools to succeed’

In first official speech as a royal, Duchess of Sussex gives speech on empowering women through education

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speaks during a visit to the University of the South Pacific on October 24, 2018 in Suva, Fiji. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Noble - Pool/Getty Images)

The Duchess of Sussex appeared in Suva, Fiji, on Tuesday, where she announced two grants aimed at empowering women staff members in universities and gave a speech highlighting the benefits that women’s education brings — not just for women, but for society at large. In remarks given at the University of South Pacific, her first official address as a royal, Meghan Markle reflected on how she had to rely on “scholarships, financial aid programs, and work-study” to be able to afford her college education at Northwestern University.

“Without question, it was worth every effort,” she told the crowd. “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 … Providing them with access to education is the key to economic and social development. Because when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but also for those around them.”

Lagakali Tabaiqia, a student at the university who attended the speech, told BBC News that the Duchess emphasized that empowering women wasn’t a zero sum gain — in that men actually stood to gain, not lose, from improved women’s equality.

“She also noted that we had a male representative. This is the women’s empowerment group. She told us to encourage other males to also champion the cause. It is not only a women’s fight, it isn’t even a fight at all. We are all in this together,” said Tabaiqia.

Markle, an outspoken feminist before her marriage to Prince Harry made her the Duchess of Sussex, has continued to emphasize women’s rights and equality in her humanitarian work as part of the British royal family. In July, she drew criticism from some corners after she appeared to eschew a tradition that bars royals from expressing political opinions when she reportedly told Ireland Senator Catherine Noone that she had been “pleased” to see Ireland reverse their longstanding ban on abortion.

Last week, she and Prince Harry announced that they are expecting their first child. On Wednesday, the duchess’ trip was abruptly cut short due to security concerns.

Watch video of her speech below.

Read the full story at ABC News.

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