Thursday, 13 Aug 2020

Meghan Markle reveals fear of ‘screwing up’ on second-last day of royal tour to Africa

Meghan was not afraid to confess she needed to refer to her notes during an important roundtable discussion focused on widening access to higher education to disadvantaged groups, including women.The Duchess of Sussex visited this morning the University of Johannesburg as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). During the discussion, Meghan highlighted how important it is for schools and universities to make sure they provide all the help youngsters need to access higher education. 

And, as she was to announce new gender grants that would boost women in research leadership roles, Meghan confessed she didn’t want to “screw up” the announcement and took out her note cards.

Speaking to academics and students, the Duchess of Sussex said: “It’s very exciting today, and I will use a note card for this because my goodness, this last bit I can’t screw up.”

Meghan’s candid confession was greeted by a roar of laughter across the room. 

During her intervention, Meghan, who is used to public speech, opened up on her own struggles to find funds to carry on with her studies.

She said: “I went to university. It takes a village, doesn’t it, to sort of piece it together for people to be able to finance that.

“Families chipping in, scholarship, financially all those things that were the reason that I was able to attend university. 

“But at the same level you need to have that kind of support on the inside for educators to be able to give as much as they can back to those who are in the educational system.”

Meghan received a bachelor’s degree from the US Northwestern University School of Communication in 2003 with a double major in theatre and international studies.

During her time at Northwestern, Meghan didn’t just attend her courses but also joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and participated in various community service and charity projects.

Meghan, who was made patron of ACU in January, after Queen Elizabeth II passed on to her the title, spoke about the importance of empowering women with education. 

She told the audience: “The goal here is to be able to have gender equality, to be able to support women as they are working in research and higher education roles.

“And also to be able to have workshops, convene things that are really helping people understand the importance of gender equality. 

“True to what you said, when a women is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community and starting an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that. 

“If you don’t have the support that is necessary that you feel that you can keep taking the next step then you’re stunted in growth.”

Meghan’s visit to the University of Johannesburg was followed by a meeting at Action Aid South Africa, where the Duchess met several representatives of NGOs and further deepened her understanding of the problems faced by women in the country, in particular gender-based violence. 

Gender-based violence and women empowerment have been the two issues Meghan focused her attention on during the royal tour to Africa.

On Thurday, the Duchess had breakfast with several female politicians, activists and leaders to get to know the gender divide in the country.

Later in the day, Meghan met the grieving mother of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old student raped and murdered in late August.      

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