Meghan Markle pens open letter to Congress advocating for parental leave

"The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost," she said.

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Meghan Markle used her considerable platform this week as an opportunity to speak on behalf of working mothers across the country who need more support on a federal level.

Back in August, the mother of two used her 40th birthday as an opportunity to launch her 40×40 initiative which encouraged the general public to spend at least 40 minutes of their day supporting all the women returning to work in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, with son Archie, meet Anglican Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah in Cape Town, South Africa in 2019. (Henk Kruger/Pool via AP, File)

She took things a step further Wednesday by penning an open letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arguing for comprehensive, national paid leave to address the fact that the pandemic saw women leaving the workforce in record numbers.

“Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities,” Markle writes, in the letter published by Paid Leave for All. “At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and daycares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost.”

“I grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler—it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember)—but what I do remember was the feeling: I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky.”

“And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go to dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory—because that’s what those families could afford to do too,” she recalled.

“I expect many of your constituents have their own version of that story. Perhaps you do, too. People in our country work incredibly hard, and yet the ask is soft: for a level playing field to achieve their version of a common dream—what is fair, and equal, and right,” she wrote.

Meghan, 40, and her husband, Prince Harry, 37, now have two children, son Archie, 2, and four-month-old daughter Lilibet.

“In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child,” her letter continued. “Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.”

“I’m writing to you on behalf of millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate. In fact, most nations already have paid leave policies in place.”

“Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists. If we’re going to create a new era of family first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.

So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost,” she concluded.

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