Meghan Markle urges girls to fight racism and gender inequality in powerful speech

The speech marked Markle's first major speaking engagement since stepping back from royal duties in March

Meghan Markle gave a powerful speech on Tuesday at the virtual Girl Up Leadership Summit about how girls and young women need to empower each other.

The 38-year-old was featured as the foundation's keynote speaker and addressed “young women around the world who aren’t just poised to change the world, but have already begun changing the world."

"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," she said via video message from her Los Angeles home.

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The Duchess of Sussex continued, "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."

Markle went on to mention the current coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. "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 said.

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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 speech marked Markle's first major speaking engagement since she and Prince Harry. stepped back from royal duties in March. Since relocating to Los Angeles, she and Harry have been connecting with various organizations via video calls.

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In June, Markle gave a speech to the graduating class at her high school alma mater, Immaculate Heart High School, and on July 1, she and Harry discussed racial injustice with four young leaders and activists as part of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.