The coronavirus pandemic has seen a “generation of economic gain wiped out” for women, said Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, in her first public comments since her explosive tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.
In a pre-recorded speech for Vax Live – a concert in the US to urge faster and more even global vaccinations, which she co-chaired alongside her husband, Prince Harry – Meghan said the past year had been defined “by communities coming together tirelessly and heroically to tackle COVID-19”.
But as the world forges a path out of the pandemic, she added, it was critical that recovery efforts prioritised the health, safety and success of everyone, “and particularly women who have been disproportionately affected”.
“Women, and especially women of colour, have seen a generation of economic gain wiped out,” said the Duchess of Sussex, who did not appear in person at the fundraiser.
“Since the pandemic began, nearly 5.5 million women have lost work in the US, and 47 million more women around the world are expected to slip into extreme poverty.
“But if we work together to bring vaccines to every country and continent, insist that vaccines are equitably distributed and fairly priced, and ensure that governments around the world are donating their additional vaccines to countries in need, then we can begin to fully rebuild.”
Meghan, who is pregnant, said she and Prince Harry were “thrilled” to soon be welcoming a daughter, a feeling of joy they “share with millions of other families around the world”.
“When we think of her, we think of all the young women and girls around the globe who must be given the ability and support to lead us forward,” she said.
“Their future leadership depends on the decisions we make and the actions we take now to set them up, to set all of us up for a successful, equitable and compassionate tomorrow.”
More than $350m raised for vaccines
The pre-recorded speech marks the first time the Duchess of Sussex has spoken publicly since the couple’s controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which she accused the royal family of ignoring her pleas for help and said there were concerns within the Palace about how dark their son Archie’s skin would be.
The concert, which was pre-taped in front of thousands of spectators in California on May 2, aired over the weekend, and featured a number of big names, including Prince Harry, US President Joe Biden and singer Jennifer Lopez.
“Tonight, we stand in solidarity with the millions of families across India, who are battling a devastating second wave,” Prince Harry told the audience.
“The virus does not respect borders, and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography.”
Global Citizen, the international advocacy organisation behind the fundraiser, said it had since exceeded $US300 million ($382 million) in donations, which would be used to procure more than 26 million vaccine doses.