UK

Duchess of Sussex urges young women to challenge leaders to create positive change

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Media captionDuchess of Sussex: "Humanity desperately needs you"

The Duchess of Sussex has urged young women to "push" humanity in a "more inclusive" direction.

Speaking to a gender equality summit, Meghan called on delegates to challenge "lawmakers, leaders and executives" and make them "uncomfortable".

She said this discomfort would "create the conditions to re-imagine our standards".

It comes after she and husband Prince Harry spoke to young people about equal rights.

In a pre-recorded video, Meghan, 38, told the 2020 Girl Up leadership summit that the duke, 35, and their son Archie, will be "cheering" on young activists as they "continue marching, advocating, and leading the way forward".

The duke and duchess are now living in Los Angeles with their son after stepping back as senior working royals earlier this year.

Last week, the pair spoke to young leaders during the Queen's Commonwealth Trust (QCT) weekly video call, which focused on responding to the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the keynote speech to the female empowerment summit, which took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, Meghan told delegates humanity "desperately" needed them to "push" it in "a more inclusive, more just, and more empathetic direction".

She said as well as framing debate, they needed to "be in charge" of the conversation on issues including racial justice, gender, climate change, mental health and "so much more".

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Media captionPrince Harry: 'It's not going to be easy... but it needs to be done'

The duchess praised the work delegates have already been doing. She highlighted those involved in efforts like organising global Black Lives Matter protests, reforming the criminal justice system and campaigns to end gun violence.

She said: "You are standing up and demanding to be heard, yes, but you're also demanding to own the conversation."

She went on to say women regularly get a verbal brush-off from those in power, something experienced "in the moments we challenge the norms".

Meghan added: "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 re-imagine our standards, our policies, our leadership; to move towards real representation and meaningful influence over the structures of decision-making and power."

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Media captionMeghan called on young people and students at the school to come together to rebuild society

This "reimagining" of standards is not "a zero-sum game", she explained, but rather it is "mutually beneficial and better for everyone".

She said the path to get there will take "girls and women, 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".

Former US First Ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton also made appearances during the conference organised by Girl Up, an initiative created by the UN Foundation in 2010 to help support UN agencies that focus on adolescent girls.

Meghan has actively campaigned on a number of humanitarian issues, especially the topics of gender equality and women's empowerment.

She has spoken previously about how a soap manufacturer altered its advert after, at the age of 11, she wrote a letter to then first lady Mrs Clinton, and other high-profile figures, complaining that it implied women belonged in the kitchen.

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