On Thursday last week, Duchess Meghan met with some of South Africa’s most influential activists and influencers…

The Duchess posted about her meeting on Instagram, saying that she felt it was necessary to meet about the acts of violence against women. “I wanted to spend my time on the ground learning about the situation at hand,” she said.

“On Thursday we convened a meeting of minds – a group of women ranging from a legendary anti-apartheid activist, female parliamentarians, professors, educators and policy makers to discuss the rights of women in South Africa.”

One of the guests at the meeting was Sophia Williams-De Bruyn who, at the age of 18, led 20,000 women on a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest apartheid pass laws. Now 81, she is the last surviving woman of the four leaders of the march. The Duchess described her as “a symbol of those who fight for fundamental human rights”.

“For her it is simple – she fights for what is right.”

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“On Thursday we convened a meeting of minds – a group of women ranging from a legendary anti-apartheid activist, female parliamentarians, professors, educators and policy makers to discuss the rights of women in South Africa. In the lead up to this tour it weighed heavily on my heart to see the countless violations against women, and I wanted to spend my time on the ground learning about the situation at hand. One of the guests, Sophia Williams-De Bruyn was just 18 years old when in 1956 she led 20,000 women to march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest of apartheid pass laws. She is the last living leader of the march, and today, a symbol of those who fight for fundamental human rights – For her it is simple – she fights for what is right. Issues of gender inequality affect women throughout the world, independent of race, color, creed, or socioeconomic background. In the last week I’ve met with women from all walks of life – religious leaders such as the first female rabbi in Capetown, grassroots leaders in Nyanga at Mbokodo, community activists, parliamentarians, and so many more. In sitting down with these forward thinkers, it was abundantly clear – it is not enough to simply hope for a better future; the only way forward is “hope in action.” I’m eager to spend the next few days in South Africa continuing to learn, listen and absorb the resilience and optimism I’ve felt here.“ -Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

Hope needs to be turned into action

The Duchess noted that ‘hope’ for a better future was not enough. “The only way forward is ‘hope in action.’”

Another one of the influential women at the meeting was Dr Mamphela Ramphele. The former anti-apartheid activist, medical doctor and academic founded the Agang political party in 2013, but withdrew from politics following disputes within the party. She is a former Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town and a one-time Managing Director at the World Bank

The ANC’s Nompendulo Mkhatshwa was also there. She is one of the youngest women to ever serve in South African parliament. She was joined by Lindiwe Mazibuko who was one of the first black women in leadership in the Democratic Alliance. Mazibuko resigned from her position as DA Parliamentary Leader in 2014, to study at Harvard University. In May 2015, she graduated from Harvard with a master’s degree in Public Administration. She is currently a resident fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Visit to Uyinene Mrwetyana memorial

The Duchess also made a special trip to visit a memorial to Uyinene Mrwetyana. The 19-year-old student who was murdered last month. The attack on Mrwetyana and other SA women led to a mass outcry in the country, and the #AmINext movement.

A post on the royals’ Instagram account called the death “a critical point in the future of women’s rights in South Africa” and said the visit was “personally important” to Meghan.

The Duchess also spoke with Mrwetyana’s mother.

Duchess Meghan writes special message in honour of Uyinene

 

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