It was a busy day for both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the penultimate day of their ten-day visit to Africa, with Harry carrying out engagements in Malawi and Meghan carrying out engagements in South Africa.
In Johannesburg, Meghan attended a roundtable discussion at the University of Johannesburg in her role as Patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities to talk about “the need for universities to promote equality and inclusive access to education, but also their power to challenge the status quo in wider society,” according to the Association of Commonwealth Universities press release.Embed from Getty Images
The roundtable discussion was chaired by Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary-General.
The Duchess of Sussex gave a short speech at the roundtable, saying, “As patron of the ACU it has been an incredible year now and we are really working to advocate for what is truly and deeply important to me: education and higher education, specifically is such a key element for growth, for economic growth and personal growth.
“I think so much of what we should be talking about at ACU is supporting people to know that… you can take the next step. So much is about having the support and scholarships and funding for students.
“’That was the reason I was able to attend university. At the same level, you need to have that support on the inside to be able to give as much back to those in the education system.”Embed from Getty Images
Speaking to the Daily Mail, university student Samukelisiwa Nomusa Shongwe said that she thinks the Duchess “is a great person” who has “done so many things. She has contributed to society, especially to African society.”
Speaking about how important education is for women, Meghan said, “When a woman is empowered, it changes absolutely everything in that community and starting an educational atmosphere is a key point of that.”
Meghan also announced three new grants for South African universities, including the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University, and the University of Western Cape. Per the ACU website, these grants will “fund a programme to increase the number of women in research leadership positions; a unique campus walking route designed to encourage meaningful conversations about gender issues, and workshops to develop inclusive university policies and research practices.”
Another focal point of discussion was encouraging more women to become active in STEM, with Dr Newman saying, “We’re proud of the work our member universities in South Africa are doing to advance equity, support access to education and develop solutions to global challenges – from supporting women in STEM, to reaching marginalised communities, to tackling marine pollution – demonstrating the power of higher education to transform society.”
Before she left, the Duchess also announced the newest Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship recipients, with four of the winners coming from Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria.
Meghan then visited Action Aid, a “global justice federation working to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication,” per its official website.Embed from Getty Images
“In South Africa, we work with poor communities to help realise their rights and enjoy a life of dignity.”
After meeting with the staff there, Her Royal Highness joined in another roundtable discussion about how to stop the cycle of violence against women and girls, and how Action Aid is working on this.
“It’s so key being able to feel that they can communicate what’s happening when something goes wrong, whatever it is,” Meghan said.
“Talking to locals throughout some of our time here this past week, whether that be the church or that’s your community… but within that community, everyone is saying, ‘Well, that’s just what is done, that’s just how it is,’ and you’re shamed into not coming forward. It’s so normalized. You’re shamed into not talking about it, even though you are the victim.”
Lindelwe Nxumalo, Action Aid’s women’s rights manager, later said about Meghan, “I think through her interest and passion in supporting women’s issues around the world she is able to put a spotlight on what we are trying to achieve.Embed from Getty Images
“For her to highlight the issues going on here, particularly violence against girls, is another shot to our government.”
Her Royal Highness later made a private visit to a classroom where a youth group for an after school girl’s club meets, called the Teddy Bear Clinic Group. Some of the girls are survivors of gender-based violence.
Meghan spoke to journalists about her first African tour, saying, “The Commonwealth is a very diverse place with 53 countries, and so being a part of this family, and the platform that comes with that, is an incredible responsibility that I take really seriously. Being able to be in Africa and South Africa – it’s my first time being in this country – has been really powerful.”
On his final day in Malawi, Harry paid a visit to the Mauwa Health Centre to see its Pharmacy in a Box and Youth Reproductive Health Outreach programmes.
Speaking to The Sun, a health official with the Mauwa Health Centre said that the Duke of Sussex met with a group of local people and said, “They asked him what challenges he faced when growing up and he did have challenges but he said they were not similar as the context was different.Embed from Getty Images
“He told the young people to ‘hold on to your dreams’ and he urged them to show kindness, empathy and work together.”
The Pharmacy in a Box programme is a joint project by the US and the UK to introduce “solar-powered storage units to provide life-saving medicines where they are most needed,” per Buckingham Palace.
Harry departed Malawi following his engagement at the Mauwa Health Centre and will reunite with Meghan for a final day of engagements in Johannesburg before the couple departs for the UK.