Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, made a surprise visit Friday to a high school in Dagenham, East London, to speak about gender parity ahead of International Women’s Day.
Her visit also marked the 50th anniversary of Britain’s Equal Pay Act, which sought to prevent discrimination against women in the workplace. Markle was joined on stage at the school by Geraldine Dear, one of the female workers at the Ford motor plant in Dagenham who went on strike for equal pay in 1968, and whose case helped trigger the legislation.
Talking of their story, which was made into the 2010 film “Made in Dagenham,” Markle said: “Women who had the strength to really stand up for something that they knew needed to be done is the best example of no matter how small you might feel, how low you may feel on the ladder or the totem pole, no matter what color you are, no matter what gender you are, you have a voice and you certainly have the right to speak up for what is right.”
Markle addressed her comments to the teenage boys in the audience as well as the girls. “It’s very easy to sometimes compartmentalize or silo this idea of International Women’s Day as solely being about women. But it’s not, it’s about all of us,” she said.
She said to the boys: “You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends in your life. Protect them. Make sure they are feeling valued, and safe. And let’s all just rally together to make International Women’s Day something that’s not just on Sunday, but frankly feels like every day of the year.”
Before being given a tour of the school, Markle had a photo taken with the students, who posed with their arms in an equals sign in reference to the International Women’s Day campaign theme “EachforEqual.”
The visit is one her last solo engagements as a member of the royal family before she and Prince Harry step back from official duties.