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Meghan Markle continues work on gender-based violence on royal tour

It's an issue the Duchess of Sussex is keen to highlight

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Sussex has made an emotional visit to ActionAid in Johannesburg to raise awareness of sexual violence in schools. Meghan, 38, learned about the charity's work to tackle the issue affecting women and girls in the area on Tuesday afternoon. She was met by Nondumiso Nsibande, country director of ActionAid South Africa and welcomed with hugs, drawings and flowers from two young girls as she arrived. 

WATCH: Meghan receives a hug from a little girl as she visits ActionAid

The Duchess put her arms around Luyanda, eight, who presented her with a picture of ‘love’ with hearts and clouds and a cross. During a discussion with the charity, Meghan spoke about the importance of victims feeling supported when they report gender-based violence.

"That when they tell somebody, that somebody does something right? It's so key...," she said.

She added: "If within your community, everyone's just like that's just what's done, that's just how it is, then you're shamed... even talking about it even though you're the victim."

The duchess described South Africa as being in a "crisis state" when it comes to gender-based violence.

"It is a crisis state here. The age range... is really staggering," she said.

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

Meghan received a hug and flowers upon her arrival

It comes after her secret visit to the site where University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, was brutally tortured, raped and murdered over a week ago. Meghan left a yellow ribbon with a handwritten message: “Simi kunye kulesisimo” – ‘We stand together in this moment.' She also joined a breakfast meeting with a group of inspiring women, where they discussed the issue of gender-based violence. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the Duchess visited the University of Johannesburg where she took part in a discussion with one of her patronages, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, about the challenges faced by young women in accessing higher education.

MORE: Meghan Markle just wore the shirt dress you always wanted on the royal tour

During a speech Meghan said: "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."

Gender-based violence is an issue Meghan has been focusing on 

She also announced three new Gender Grants for the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University and the University of Western Cape. After wearing a Banana Republic double-breasted trench dress for her first engagement, Meghan changed into a khaki shirtdress by ethical brand Room 502, teamed with black court shoes. 

Meghan will be reunited with husband Harry as he flies from Malawi to Johannesburg later today.  

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