By Lauren Le Vine. Photos: Getty Images.
Meghan Markle, who—let’s mention it right off the top so as not to diminish the news that follows—is currently dating Prince Harry, has been doing humanitarian work for quite some time now (in addition to her regular gig as the star of Suits). While we haven’t heard anything from Markle on the subject of her relationship with Harry, she has steadily been providing commentary about issues that are important to her during their time together. Her latest piece, which appears on Time’s Web site, is titled “How Periods Affect Potential.” In the essay, Markle discusses the stigma surrounding menstruation in countries like India and Iran, as well as sub-Saharan Africa.
“I traveled to Delhi and Mumbai this January with World Vision to meet girls and women directly impacted by the stigmatization of menstrual health and to learn how it hinders girls’ education,” Markle wrote. “During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely . . . this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure.”
Markle advocates for the Menstrual Hygiene Movement (M.H.M.) to be put back on the table, since removing the shame surrounding menstruation would help young women stay in school. “When a girl misses school because of her period, cumulatively that puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days,” Markle explained. It’s hard enough for girls in India to enter and stay in school to begin with, so the increased likelihood of their stopping their education due to lack of access to proper sanitary facilities, as well as the stigma surrounding their periods, is thwarting their ability to break the cycle of poverty and become members of the community who could foster economic growth.
The actress and humanitarian also described a microfinance movement called Myna Mahila Foundation, where women manufacture sanitary pads to sell in communities. The effort not only provides these resources to girls, but also fosters open communication about menstruation.
This is not Markle’s first essay about her humanitarian work. In November 2016, Elle U.K. published a piece she penned in her Suits trailer. In it, Markle describes a trip to Rwanda that she took as an advocate for U.N. Women, juxtaposing it with attending the BAFTAs at the same time. She also described a speech she made on a past International Women’s Day (which is also when her latest essay came out) about “the responsibility I now feel as a woman and as an actress” now that Suits has given her the platform and visibility to influence people everywhere—“especially young girls.”
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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