On Oct. 20, Meghan Markle wrote a letter to U.S. Congress in support of paid leave policies for working parents, and let’s just say, the Duchess didn’t hold back. Known for addressing women’s rights, Markle’s letter proves yet again that she isn’t merely theorizing her ideas, she’s making some seriously specific moves. Meghan Markle’s letter to Congress about paid leave will have you cheering, and rightfully so.
As congressional Democrats push for a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure spending bill, Markle saw her opportunity to advocate “as a mom” for the cause. “I’m writing to you on behalf of millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate," she wrote in the open letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent," she wrote in a letter released by the group Paid Leave for All.
Following the birth of their second child, Lilibet, in June, Markle says she and her husband, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, were overjoyed — and simultaneously a little stressed. "Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work. We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family," she wrote. "We knew that by doing so we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day." She also pointed out that over the past year and a half, many parents — and particularly women — have had their careers impacted by the demands of childcare and lack of leave during lockdown. According to Pew Research, even before 2020, women were consistently more likely than men to say being a parent made it harder for them to have a career.
The Duchess continued, “No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).”
In 2020, the Duke and Duchess stepped away from their duties as full-time working members of the royal family and decided to move back to Markle’s home state of California. While members of the British royal family are expected to remain neutral in terms of political views, it’s evident that Markle feels passionately about women’s equality, and is ready to actively advocate for policies to help other women succeed.
Markle made clear in the open letter that she supports paid leave policies in the United States as "a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists."
Markle’s public pitch seems to come right on time. The current proposal under President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” infrastructure bill would allow for 12 weeks of paid family leave — but that proposal is at risk as legislators negotiate. The White House has indicated that the 12 weeks of leave proposed may be cut down to four weeks.
"I know how politically charged things can — and have — become," Markle continued in the Oct. 20 letter. "But this isn’t about Right or Left, it’s about right or wrong."
"This is about putting families above politics," she added. "And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us."