Meghan Markle defends activism: ‘I always stood up for what was right’

At a virtual summit recently, Markle said that she wasn't always privileged and that her life experiences helped her to speak up for others

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Meghan Markle is not backing down when it comes to critics of her social and political activism.

While speaking at The New York Times’ DealBook Online Summit, the Duchess of Sussex said that she has “always stood up for what was right,” during a conversation with Mellody Hobson, co-C.E.O. and president of Ariel Investments.

When discussing paid leave, Markle said: “I think this is one of those issues that is not red or blue. We can all agree that people need support certainly when they’ve just had a child.”

She called the issue of paid family leave a “humanitarian issue.”

“Even before I had any sort of privilege in my life — when my life and my lifestyle were very, very different — I always stood up for what was right,” Markle continued.

Markle is a longtime advocate for paid family and medical leave. She recently donated Starbucks gift cards to employees of a U.S.-based nonprofit campaigning for greater equity in the workforce, theGrio previously reported.

PEOPLE reported that Markle granted the cards to members of the nonprofit organization PL+US. The organization advocates for “high-quality paid family and medical leave for everyone” in the U.S. by 2022, according to its website.

Last month, Markle penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer advocating for a national paid maternity leave bill. The letter was published by Paid Leave for All.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex during Global Citizen Live, New York on Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images,)

“Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities,” the mother of two wrote. “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.”

She continued: “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.”

Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Visit Cardiff Castle
Meghan Markle (left) and her husband, Prince Harry (right) doing media for up her children’s book, “The Bench.” (Photo by Ben Birchall – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Meghan also noted that she and her husband Prince Harry both recently took 20 weeks of parental leave after the birth of their daughter, Lilibet.

“We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family,” Meghan wrote. “We knew that by doing so we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.”

“The families you represent need your strong leadership,” she continued. “Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option.”

Paid family leave was added into the $1.75 trillion social spending and climate policy bill, Pelosi announced Wednesday.

Ny Magee contributed to this report.

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