Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Duchess Meghan Addresses "Crisis State" Gender Violence With ActionAid

The Duchess of Sussex visited a local school in Johannesburg to meet with representatives from ActionAid to discuss a range of issues including gender based and sexual violence in schools. 

Meghan was greeted with flowers and hugs by Kaliso, Kadisha and Luyanda whose mothers work for ActionAid.

Listen to the musical welcome below.

The engagement marked Meghan's second solo appearance of the day. This morning, she joined a round-table discussion with her patronage, the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Meghan announced four new Queen Elizabeth Scholarships which will enable students from Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria to study in South Africa. She also announced three new gender grants for female students in the country. The Duchess told the group: "When a woman is in power it changes absolutely everything in the community, and starting in an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that."

We've been lucky enough to learn about the work of a plethora of incredible organisations throughout the tour. When we consider charities striving to effect change and support the most vulnerable, ActionAid comes to mind immediately. The global federation is working for a free, fair and sustainable future. One of their key areas of focus is women's rights. Their work is an ideal fit for Meghan and ties in nicely with her programme for the tour. Prince Charles has been patron of ActionAid UK for almost 25 years and has been closely involved in their work at home and abroad.

ActionAid shared the following on their work supporting women: "Women’s work is often overlooked, unpaid and undervalued. They work in unsafe conditions and have precarious jobs. Greater corporate accountability for upholding human rights is needed. Across the world, women and girls are at risk of violence. We must challenge the social and cultural norms that lead to women’s vulnerability. There are structural causes of violence against women: beliefs, access to resources, and economics. Governments must do more to serve the needs of poor and excluded women, and to protect and advance their rights."

More from the charity:

'We work closely with people living in poverty and exclusion, civil society organisations, social movements and supporters. Together, we deliver grassroots programmes, provide emergency relief and campaign for things such as women’s economic rights, tax justice and climate justice.
Our work falls into four broad areas: women, politics and economics, land and climate, and emergencies. We have a particular focus on women’s rights; it’s a thread that runs through all our work.
ActionAid was founded as a charity in 1972. In the 1990s, we adopted a human rights-based approach to development. In 2003, we established the ActionAid International federation. Our head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa. We also have hubs in Asia, the Americas and Europe.'

During a round-table discussion Meghan spoke about gender violence in South Africa.

Bafana Khumalo talked to Meghan about patriarchy and how there is a sense of acceptance regarding the treatment of women. He said: "We must challenge men and hold them accountable". Meghan agreed and replied "And boys".

You'll notice the chart behind Meghan focuses on women's rights, sustainability and shifting power.

More from The Telegraph:

'Professor Rachel Jewkes, of the South African Medical Council, told the duchess that the problem needed to be addressed across all age groups at school. The professor said new projects focused on building healthy relationships with the help of parents was also key.
The Duchess agreed with Prof Jewkes’ analysis and added: “We need a shift in that paradigm. You can’t do that without some of the cultural context. To your point, it is at a crisis state here and the age range that it is happening at is really staggering. 
“So what are you seeing in terms of progress, in terms of going into their homes, behaviour and having that interaction with the parents as well, especially the patriarch, to be able to shift what that conversation is like?”

Afterwards, Meghan travelled to meet with a group of girls aged 12-16 who have suffered domestic and sexual violence. A staff member from an organisation called Teddy Bear Clinic Group told the Duchess how they offer support to the girls through an after school club. Sussex Royal posted: "These girls have come out of situations of abuse and degradation and have found their sense of self, purpose, and confidence in the spirit of sisterhood and community in The Girls Club. The Duchess described them as role models for all. For the privacy and protection of these young women, no photos of this visit will be shared."

It was a khaki green shirtdress by ethical brand Room 502 for the Duchess this afternoon. The $455 Stephanie is a short-sleeve tailored style with a built in waistband belt in imperial popeline cotton.

The style is inspired by the 1960s style of Austrian-French actress Romy Schneider.

Room 502 is a Montreal based brand founded by well-known French designer Sophie Theallet. Her designs have been worn by Michelle Obama and Anna Wintour. On the designer, Wintour has said: “She is a very rare creature in fashion these days. Theallet’s success is a reminder that a strong technical foundation is priceless.” In additional to creating ethical clothing, the brand donates a portion of each sale to Epic - a global nonprofit helping disadvantaged youth.

Meghan wore her favourite black Manolo Blahnik BB pumps.

The Duchess accessorised with a pair of Labyrinth earrings by South African jewellers Pichulik (with thanks to Caroline Parr).

The $120 pair are described as:

'A labyrinth is an ancient modality for wholeness. Combining the imagery of a circle and the spiral. The Labyrinth earring represents our hero's journey into our centre to know ourselves intimately so that we may venture out in the world strong, clear and wise. Custom brass button stud earring with woven rope embellished with copper beads and braid rope hand woven with wax cotton.'

On several occasions during the tour, Meghan has worn the Alemdara Handad Bracelet (with many thanks to Susan from What Meghan Wore for her work on this ID). The £775 piece is crafted from 18ct gold and features a navy enamel eye circled with diamonds on both side of the eye, on a delicate rose gold chain.

And her Jennifer Meyer turquoise ring.

If you're just joining us, click here to view the post on Meghan's engagement with the ACU. The Duchess wore a Banana Republic trench dress and her Stuart Weitzman Legend pumps.

For the final day of the tour, Harry and Meghan have a packed day tomorrow:

  • The Sussexes will visit a township in Johannesburg where they will meet inspiring young people and view skills initiatives addressing unemployment challenges. 
  • Later that day, they will meet Mrs Graca Machal, widow of the late Nelson Mandela. 
  • Harry and Meghan will attend an afternoon reception to celebrate the UK and South Africa's business and investment relationship. 
  • Finally to close the tour, they will attend an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife. 

Harry's flying from Malawi to rejoin Meghan and Archie this evening. They've been apart since Wednesday, so I'm sure they are greatly looking forward to catching up.


  1. Amazing initiative. School should be a safe zone...glad to see her highlighting this issue and offering assistance. And, she looks beautiful

  2. Another great cause!

    This dress is infinitely more flattering on her. Don't love the color, but she should have worn this all day today.

    1. Caroline in Montana1 October 2019 at 18:01

      I agree, not sure why she even bothered with the beige?? at least this color is better and this seems to fit better, but still not a fan of the slit up the front and the belted waist on her.

  3. Wow gorgeous, so much better than the trench dress, Shirt dresses really flatter her. And what a great cause although “sexual violence in schools” is so tragic and shouldn’t happen st all.

  4. Meghan looks great, but it’s a shirt dress again, lol.

    1. I have enjoyed her entire wardrobe for this tour. I like the casualness of her clothing choices as well as Harry's. I think her wardrobe was selected to be very nursing-friendly for this tour as well.

  5. what a quick change i love her bringing some talks about woman children in need .. or women abuse to speak up

  6. I really like this look!! I also like the causes she & Harry support as these things need attention.

  7. She looks so cute in all her choices -- I particularly love her earrings today. I looked up the denim dress she wore yesterday, and it comes in some wonderful colors and fabulous prints. All of the other colors/prints would also look great on Meghan, on Kate, and even on me. :)

  8. First of all, it is very brave to address such a difficult and complex topic and I applaud Meghan for it. Not that violence should be a difficult topic - it is just terrible and inhuman, but I somehow (without having a deeper knowledge of the situation in SA) feel like it probably is so I admire approachung it directly and bravely as Meghan does.

    I love all these button up dresses. Especially this cut and color flatters Meghan a lot. I imagine it is very practical, too. I am still very happy about her choosing more affordable and also ethical brands.

    I have one little complaint about today's outfits: they both seemed to have a button malfunction. The Banana Republic dress wasn't buttoned properly at one place (I really lack words here, but one of the buttons was oddly only halfway through the hole) and here, the last button seems to have gotten undone while walking.


  9. Zora from Prague1 October 2019 at 19:43

    Thank you for both posts today, Charlotte! Such worthy causes! It must be very encouraging for the girls and young women to have Meghan there and to know that she cares.

  10. There's no point in anyone criticizing Meghan's clothing choices on this tour. Likely they were purposefully selected to NOT be the focal point of any of her engagements. For the most part, basic designs in solid, basic colors, that stay in the background and not demand attention. You have to commend her for that.

  11. She looks great. Without making her looks the important part. I love shirtdresses and Meghan wears them so beautifully. I was wondering how this tour would work with Harry and Meghan traveling separate for so many days. And it works incredibly well. For Meghan it seems she is just in her element. Caring, vibrant, deeply engaged. Congrats to her and her team for this. I think they even covered more issues in doing so. I like the way Meghan and Harry relate to people. It is not a Royal giving an audience style or being kind to people of a „lesser fate“. It is very respectful, one level and very warm. I am looking forward to see their work evolve in the future.

    1. I find all royals respectful and nice when they are relating to other people.

  12. Pam, exactly! I mentioned how striking I found the other color/print options of Meghan's denim dress from yesterday. I very much like the blue denim, but I believe it was picked to blend in and to allow others to shine.

    On another theme, I love to see, over the years, what little girls wear to meet royalty. One little girl has Peanuts pants, and I know they would have been my favorite -- I loved everything about Snoopy and the gang. And one wore a red velvet dress. I have to think that the girls have a big say in what they want to wear for Meghan. It's just so sweet.

  13. Wow -- just read a statement from Harry about the media abuse of Meghan. I can feel his hurt and worry. He loves her so much. I don't believe in this age of instant Internet access that one can just "never explain" the way one could 100 years ago. Hay for Harry!


  14. Thoughts...Although I have followed M&H tour intently over the past almost ten days I choose to wait to almost the end to comment. I have noticed the less then usual number of comments. I imagine that is due in part to the nature of the knowledge of how women much like ourselves live in other parts of the world. I do believe this was the absolute intent of the tour to make us even more aware. I do believe it has resinated with us all. I think the tour was an enormous success from every point. Meghan and Harry continue to be a force for good as they represent the UK. Each of their initiatives only get better. I wonder what else they have been working on behind closed doors that will be announced in time. On a fluff note, fashion. Little need be said about Meghan's attire this tour in my mind. She wore a true "working woman's wardrobe". Everything she wore could have been in anyones closet at the ready to be pulled out for a day at the office, a school meeting or even a quick cup of coffee at Starbucks with a friend. Meghan knows exactly what she is doing in that department. In closing, I have just read on ABC that Harry has made the decision to take legal action again the British tabloid, the Mail on Sunday in regards to their contrived reporting on Meghan. Simply said, BRAVO!!!

    1. yes, agree with all you said - thank you

    2. USA Granny, I noticed fewer comments, and I was looking for yours. :) I agree with everything you said so well.

  15. Thanks for covering the tour in such a timely and informative way! Incredible to read and sending impulses and food for thoughts. That is the same way I feel about this tour - H&M put their fingers on topics and lean their reach around around the globe to make us aware of things going wrong, needing improvement and that a few things we take as given. But it’s not, and especially violence against women, education, health etc are key for in life.
    And seems like I am lonely in preferring the beige dress as extremely fitting for the University visit. Minimal jewelry and a broad smile are the best accessories.

  16. Another great day of learning for me. I’m over the moon, so to speak. Thanks soooo much, Charlotte

  17. The causes Meghan is highlighting are so important. This has been an educational & influential tour.
    Like this dress better than the last one on color alone, but my main thought today: Meghan's hair is so long! It looks beautiful, but I'd not noticed the length before. Love it. Great post Charlotte! -op

  18. she looks so lovely and this tour is inspirational thank you Charlotte for your hard work on it

  19. Dear Charlotte, lovely post as always, but Romy Schneider is from Austria not Germany so she is an Austrian-French actrice

  20. what a lovely blog and kudos to the Sussex


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