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Meghan Markle encourages girls to 'build each other up' during powerful speech

The Duchess of Sussex encouraged attendees to use their voices

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Sussex spoke of the importance of "building each other up" as she delivered a passionate keynote speech at the virtual Girl Up Leadership Summit on Tuesday. 

READ: Prince Harry and Meghan admit it's time to have 'uncomfortable' conversations

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WATCH: Meghan delivers powerful keynote speech at Girl Up Leadership Summit 

Speaking from her Los Angeles home, Meghan, 38, said to young listeners: "Your generation is often referred to as digital natives, and you understand that our online world has the power to affirm and support as much as it does to harm. We are not meant to be breaking each other down; we are meant to be building each other up. 

"So use your voice both on-and-offline to do just that – build each other up, support each other. There will always be negative voices and sometimes those voices can appear to be outsized, and sometimes they can appear to be painfully loud. You can and will use your own voices to drown out the noise. Because that’s what it is - just noise. But your voices are those of truth. And hope. And your voices can and should be much louder."

Meghan encouraged attendees to keep speaking up, saying: "I know you have already done so much and made so many people’s lives better. The moment we are living through right now asks all of us to do more. It's a moment where your voices, and your action, have never been more urgently needed."

She added: "Believing in true equality is not enough — it's going to take more than belief, we have to work for it every day; even when it's hard and even when it makes others feel uneasy. We have to speak up for ourselves and we have to speak out for others who struggle to be heard."

The Duchess also spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement, saying: "Girl Up members are organizing Black Lives Matter protests around the world, you are creating films to encourage your peers to become activist leaders, you are reforming the criminal justice system, you are telling your school boards we need more mental health resources for all ages, you are leading coalitions to end gun violence. You are standing up and demanding to be heard, yes, but you're also demanding to own the conversation."

Meghan concluded her speech by saying: "Look, sometimes it's not obvious what to do. Often, it's fear that paralyzes us and stops us from being brave and being bold. But don't underestimate that you have some of the answers. Don't underestimate your ability to push through the fear.

"You have, rooted in your convictions, the ability to craft a world that you know is just and kind. Your gut will tell you what's right and what's wrong; what's fair and unfair. The hardest part—and it was the hardest part for me—is to chase your convictions with action.

"If you look at the breadth of the issues we're facing right now, it's easy to get overwhelmed, I understand. So be where you are in the moment. The growth and change you're pursuing might not feel like anything day-to-day, but when you look back, I promise you'll see it all adds up. We make better communities and a better world for ourselves step-by-step. And the pace of those steps is getting quicker.

"It's in looking at the aggregate, looking at the big picture, that you can see how far we've progressed. I am extraordinarily proud of what you've already accomplished. Please, continue to honour the conviction and compassion that's awoken within you. I will be cheering you on, so will my husband, so will Archie, as you continue marching, advocating, and leading the way forward."

Back in June, Meghan recorded a powerful message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, as she addressed the graduating 2020 class at her old school, the Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. 

A source close to the Duchess tells HELLO! that she strongly believes that the next generation of girls and young women have incredible power and have already shown themselves to be leaders beyond their years: on racial justice, climate change, mental health, civic engagement, public service, and much more. They are a generation that is challenging norms, enacting real-world change, and leading global movements. She says that they are not only 'poised to change the world’, she believes they have ‘already begun’.

MORE: How Meghan Markle has made her temporary US base feel like home

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Meghan, with mum Doria, spoke at the UN Women Conference in 2015

Girl Up was founded by the UN Foundation in 2010 as an initiative to help support UN agencies that focus on adolescent girls. The 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit is its biggest yet, spanning nearly 40,000 attendees, ages 13 and 22, across 172 countries. 

Meghan was one of the guest speakers at the three-day virtual event, which included a special message from former US First Lady Michelle Obama and a Q&A with one of the Duchess' close friends and fellow actress, Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Before marrying Prince Harry, the Duchess was long an advocate of women's rights and gender equality. The former Suits star delivered a powerful speech at the UN Women Conference in 2015, where she recalled writing a letter at the age of 11, asking a soap manufacturer to change its sexist TV advert. 

MORE: Exciting news for Kate Middleton and her children

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Harry and Meghan stepped back from royal duties in March 

HELLO! understands that gender equity, civic engagement, youth empowerment, and promoting a digital community that's healthy and safe have long been areas of key focus for the Duchess and will continue to be part of her future work. 

The Sussexes are temporarily residing at a £15million mansion owned by Tyler Perry in the Beverly Ridge Estate of LA, after stepping back from royal life in March.

Prince Harry and Meghan were pictured in Beverly Hills over the weekend. The Duchess kept her cool in a white linen dress by Magic Linen and a large straw hat, while her husband was dressed casually in blue jeans, trainers, a grey polo top and a matching cap. 

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