Meghan Markle insisted she is not playing politics with her royal title by calling for paid family leave for all, which she says is a ‘humanitarian issue’, during an appearance at the New York Times DealBook summit on Tuesday.
The Duchess of Sussex appeared for a 30-minute panel to discuss her efforts to enforce paid family leave in America at the event in New York City.
Meghan was interviewed by Andrew Sorkin, who edits DealBook, the Times’ financial newsletter, and appeared alongside Mellody Hobson, co-C.E.O. and President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based investment firm, who she said she had become friends with.
During the session, she also said she uses online discount codes to shop, after growing up ‘clipping coupons’ to find bargains, and that it gave her a sense of pride and worth.
Her appearance comes three weeks after she stepped outside of royal protocol with a letter to US Congress, asking them to consider making paid family leave law for all Americans.
Asked about criticism she was intervening in politics, Meghan gave a quote she attributed to Prince Harry about how ‘with great privilege comes great responsibility’.
Meghan Markle appeared at the New York Times DealBook Summit in New York City on Tuesday for a panel on gender pay equity and paid family leave
Meghan – who abandoned royal life with Prince Harry in January 2020 – said on Tuesday that she doesn’t see the move as a political issue, and that with her privilege comes ‘great responsibility’.
‘I don’t see this as a political issue frankly. There is a precedent among my husband’s family, the royal family, of not having any involvement in politics. From my standpoint, this is a humanitarian issue.
‘My husband has always said with great privilege comes great responsibility and before I had ay kind of privilege, I always stood up for what was right. I’ve been gone from the US for a really long time, I was in Canada for seven years then I went to the UK. I’ve come back and I’m a mother of two.
‘The US is one of only six countries in the world that didn’t offer any kind of paid national level. I said “let me put pen to paper and make some calls.” To me it seems like a really logical and obvious thing to do,’ she said.
During the calls, Meghan says lawmakers are often ‘surprised’ to hear from her but that they generally are receptive.
‘I introduce myself – these calls are not planned calls, right – I just get the phone number and I call. Yes, people are pretty surprised, I think. This is one of those issues that’s not red or blue, we can all agree that people need support.’
Three weeks ago, Meghan lobbied congress for paid family leave for all in a letter. She says it is a humanitarian issue
She added: ‘I still see myself as the same as I have always been. I’ve always been a hard worker, people that know me well some of whom are here today know that, I’ve just always been the same.
‘If you are grounded in who you are… I show up in the same way that I always have.’
The Duchess of Sussex went on to speak about women’s sense of worth and purpose, and how mothers ought to be paid for staying at home when they have children.
Harry is expected at a gala at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
‘Both my parents have a very strong work ethic, it was when I was about eight or nine, I started making scrunchies to sell. I’d go downtown, have my mum take me to get the scraps then I’d make them and I’d sell them. I remember the feeling of knowing I had done something, invested in myself, done this labor, and been compensated for it and there’s a sense of pride in that.
‘There is a sense of purpose especially for women at home. They are working but it’s unpaid labor and it needs to be recognized.
‘Men need to be a part of the conversation. I think it takes strong men and modern men frankly to understand that they benefit from it as well,’ she said.
She also suggested changes to social media to quell bullying, including adding a ‘dislike button’ on Instagram that would replace negative comments.
‘The entire environment of social media, not just social media… it becomes a race to the bottom. Clickbait ends up being monetized and feeds the environment of the media because it is so quick and rapid… now it’s about creating the news and not reporting the news and the damaging effects for young girls are impossible to quantify.
‘If you get paid for the most clicks and people click for the most hateful things… in lockdown too let’s say someone had five hours a week just scrolling online, during lockdown maybe they were spending 50 hours a week, becoming indoctrinated.
‘There has to be a responsibility that lands somewhere. It’s really concerning.
‘There are ways to make changes with social media and the media in general but people have to be brave enough to do it.
‘Instagram, for example, there’s a like button or there’s a comment. You have to, if you disagree with something, comment in a vitriolic way as opposed to pressing a dislike button.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie during their royal tour of South Africa on September 25, 2019. They have since welcomed a daughter, Lilibet
‘It adds to a cycle that is having an effect on women across the board. ‘
She spoke about Archewell, the organization she and Harry have founded that is both a production company and charity, and said they run it as bosses in a way that they would appreciate as employees.
‘We are a small company and we have the policies we would like if we were employees. We have 20 weeks of paid leave, if it’s not being provided by the government at this stage you want to be a company doing it.
‘It is multicultural because we want a diversity of opinions and points of view, both on the production side and our foundation side.’
Meghan wore black pants, a black sweater, a Ferragamo belt and black stilettos, with a large poppy pinned to her sweater, as is customary in the UK in November in commemoration of the war dead.