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Meghan Markle speaks from the heart after first week in South Africa

The Duchess of Sussex has been moved by the struggle of women and girls facing gender-based violence

Emily Nash

The Duchess of Sussex has issued a rallying cry to young women activists to "keep at it" for the sake of future generations. She also spoke of how moved she has been by the struggle of women and girls facing an epidemic of gender-based violence in South Africa. After a private breakfast meeting with women leaders in Cape Town, where they discussed the issue, Meghan said: "I have been so moved by what I have heard. The leadership and strength shown by these women is remarkable, and at a time when the issue of gender and gender-based violence is at the forefront of people’s minds, I hope their voices will resonate and not only give comfort but also create change.

Meghan Markle pictured with Sophia Williams-De Bruyn

"This is not just a South African issue, this is a global problem that can only find solution with the attention and work of everyone, regardless of gender, status, politics, race or nationality."

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She told the guests, from the worlds of business, politics, banking and academia: "We can learn a certain amount from the outside, by tracking it through the news, but it’s not the same as being able to truly understand what it’s like on the ground. Much of my life I have been advocating for women and girls' rights, so this has been an incredibly powerful moment to hear first-hand from all of you."

The Duchess is a prolific advocate for women and girls' rights

Violence against women and girls has been declared a national emergency by South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa and widespread protests followed the brutal rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, in August in a post office.

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HELLO! understands that while the Duchess had been considering a visit to the murder scene to pay tribute to the University of Cape Town student, she was spurred on by her meeting last Thursday and went straight from there to the site. She left a ribbon on which she had written in the Xhosa language: "Simi kunye kulesisimo", which means 'We stand together in this moment' and signed it "Harry and Meghan".

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Simi kunye kulesisimo” – ‘We stand together in this moment’ The Duchess of Sussex has tied a ribbon at the site where 19-year-old Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana was murdered last month, to pay her respects and to show solidarity with those who have taken a stand against gender based violence and femicide. Over the last month in Capetown, protests erupted through the streets in outrage over GBV in South Africa. The Duke and Duchess had been following what had happened from afar and were both eager to learn more when they arrived in South Africa. The Duchess spoke to the mother of Uyinene this week to relay their condolences. Visiting the site of this tragic death and being able to recognise Uyinene, and all women and girls effected by GBV (specifically in South Africa, but also throughout the world) was personally important to The Duchess. Uyinene’s death has mobilised people across South Africa in the fight against gender based violence, and is seen as a critical point in the future of women’s rights in South Africa. The Duchess has taken private visits and meetings over the last two days to deepen her understanding of the current situation and continue to advocate for the rights of women and girls. For more information on the recent events in South Africa, please see link in bio. #AmINext

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During the breakfast, Meghan heard from guests including Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, who in 1956 led 20,000 women to march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against apartheid pass laws. She is the last living leader of the march, which she led at the age of 18.

Meghan told the women: "I was recently reminded that the first one up the mountain often gets knocked down the hardest, but makes way for everyone behind them. These brave women have been able to see how their struggle can pave the way for so many. For all young women organisers, activists and campaigners today, you must keep at it and know that you are working for this generation and the next, and also continuing the legacy of the generations of great women before you."

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