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Elevating a Generation of Girl Leaders

Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, convened a roundtable with Girls Inc. and National Women’s Law Center to give adolescent girls a platform to speak about the breadth of challenges their generation is facing at this moment—a moment when their voices, and their actions, have never been so urgently needed. The Duchess believes girls’ voices can and should be heard, and through Archewell she focuses on providing them with the platforms, tools, and forums to help define a path forward and continue making an impact.

Joined at a virtual forum by Stephanie J. Hull and Fatima Goss Graves, the respective leaders of Girls Inc. and National Women’s Law Center, The Duchess heard from a powerful and passionate group of 13- to 18-year-olds—primarily girls of color—who are part of Girls. Inc affiliates across America. As young activists, these girls are already making an impact around education, social justice, and health and wellness in their own schools and communities. With ambitions of becoming medical professionals, senators, and presidents, the girls who attended had strong and incisive perspectives on issues critical to girls today. The group spoke about everyday struggles during COVID-19, including identity loss and isolation, and larger issues of mental health, racial bias and injustice, and more. When asked what tools girls need to thrive in the year ahead, a common thread emerged: acknowledgement, support, empathy, and resources.

As a part of the roundtable, The Duchess reflected on the impact of trailblazing women throughout history whose stories can move us to meet the moment—and asked the girls to share which female figures, past or present, embolden them to challenge injustice. Their answers included American civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as Kala Bagai, one of the first South Asian women to immigrate to the United States in the early 20th century, who was known to many in her California community as “Mother India.”

Amid the pandemic, The Duchess has been engaging with communities of girls and girl-serving organizations, taking an approach of listening to and learning directly from a new generation of leaders. During Women’s History Month, she participated in a virtual mentoring session with a teen girl from L.A. Works and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, and during Black History Month, she joined a meaningful dialogue with diverse young poets from the organization Get Lit—Words Ignite that was focused on creating change through the power of words. In addition, in March, The Duchess sent an important message to the students at Robert Clack School in Dagenham, England—which she visited for International Women’s Day 2020—about how they can continue to pave the way for a more compassionate future by embracing community. All throughout the past year, she has convened conversations with women and girls, spoken with gender icons as well as new leaders, and partnered with key organizations advocating for a more equitable and just future.  

This work will continue as part of Archewell Foundation’s commitment to building compassionate communities that uplift women and girls, and serves as a reflection of the long-standing record of advocacy by The Duchess, who has been standing up for equity since she was a young girl herself.

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