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Meghan Markle champions women's education at University of Johannesburg visit

The Duchess of Sussex met students to discuss the challenges facing young women

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Sussex has made a surprise visit to the University of Johannesburg during her royal tour of Africa.

Meghan, 38, was welcomed by cheers from students as she arrived at the campus and was greeted by Susana Glavan, director of the British Council in South Africa, and Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, vice chancellor of the university. She wore a £95 double-breasted trench dress by Banana Republic with nude heels for the engagement. 

WATCH: Meghan visits the University of Johannesburg

The Duchess met academics and students during a roundtable discussion with one of her patronages, the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Together they spoke about the challenges faced by young women in accessing higher education.

Meghan told academics and students during her speech: "When a women is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community."

READ: Meghan Markle's secret engagement in Johannesburg on royal tour REVEALED

Meghan wore a £95 Banana Republic dress

She announced three new Gender Grants for the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University and the University of Western Cape.

"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," she said.

"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."

Samukelisiwa Nomusa Shongwe, 19, who was among the students waiting to meet Meghan, said: "I think she is a great person. She has done so many things. She has contributed to society, especially to African society.

"She is very interested in playing a positive role by speaking about gender equality and gender abuse."

MORE: Meghan Markle WOWS in a £95 camel tux dress at the University of Johannesburg

Meghan with student Tuni Mampame

On Monday, the Duchess made a surprise visit to a social enterprise initiative at Victoria Yards in Johannesburg, where she met artists, designers and local children. She was also given a special gift for baby Archie from denim label Tshepo – a pair of dungarees.

Over the weekend, the Duchess joined the Duke via a Skype call, as he visited the Nalikule College of Education in Lilongwe, Malawi to learn how schoolgirls are being helped with their studies through the Campaign for Female Education.

The pair will be reunited today as Harry flies to Johannesburg from Malawi. During their first week of their tour, fans were delighted as baby Archie made his debut during tea with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and couldn't get over how much the four-month-old looks like his dad.

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