Duchess Meghan made a surprise stop at a London school in support of gender equity.
Prince Harry’s wife continued her “farewell tour” with an unexpected appearance Friday at Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, where she celebrated the achievements of women ahead of Sunday’s International Women’s Day.
The couple and their baby son, Archie, are moving to Canada as they officially step back as working senior royals on April 1. They’re in England for a final round of royal engagements.
Meghan’s visit commemorated Britain’s 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, which prohibited workplace discrimination against women. The act was prompted when female sewing machinists at the Ford Motor Plant went on strike in Dagenham for equal pay in 1968.
“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,” Duchess Meghan told the 700 students assembled to hear her speech. “It’s not just an opportunity to continue that, it’s a responsibility. I encourage and empower each of you to really stand in your truth, to stand for what is right – to continue to respect each other.”
She urged the young men in the room “to continue to value and appreciate the women in your lives, and also set the example for some men who are not seeing it that same way. You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life – protect them. Make sure that they are feeling valued and safe.
“Let’s all rally together to make International Women’s Day something that is not just on Sunday – but frankly, feels like every day of the year.”
The duchess, dressed in slim black trousers and a fringed cream blazer, was joined onstage by Geraldine Dear, one of the striking Ford workers who helped spur the legislation.
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50 years ago, women in Britain won the right to equal pay. That monumental moment began with one courageous and inspiring group of women in a factory in Dagenham, England. In 1968, facing a pay settlement that declared them less skilled than men, the sewing machinists of the Ford Motor Company walked out on strike. In the face of great pressure, they stood firm, and two years later the UK Parliament was forced to pass the Equal Pay Act, protecting and supporting working women ever since. To mark International Women’s Day, The Duchess of Sussex visited Dagenham to meet with Geraldine Dear, one of the strikers, and spend time with students at the Robert Clack Upper School to meet the town’s next generation of female role models, and talk to young women and men about the women who inspire them. • “Being in Dagenham is incredibly profound. Because as you can see with Geraldine and the other women who had the strength to really stand up for something that they knew needed to be done. This 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 colour 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.” – The Duchess of Sussex A lifetime advocate and campaigner for gender equity, The Duchess joined a special assembly to celebrate this remarkable local story, as well as recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of all women around the world. #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2020 #EachForEqual Photo © The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton
On Sunday, the royal couple were photographed driving to Sunday morning church service at Windsor. Harry wore a dark suit and striped tie, and Meghan donned a black fascinator, a white-collared dress and what looked like square-cut emerald earrings.
Their last engagement will likely be Monday when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expected to join Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the royal family, including Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge, for the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
SOURCE: USA Today, Kim Willis