Cape Town - The Duchess of Sussex met with a group of South African women leaders on Thursday to better understand the roles they play in the country and their communities.
The group of diverse women from various backgrounds and generations included former anti-apartheid activist Sophia Willams-De Bruyn, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Lindiwe Mazibuko, Judy Sikuza, Mbali Ntuli, Siviwe Gwarube and Nompendulo Mkatshwa.
During their time together, they shared the struggles they have faced and their action plan for the future.
Speaking to the women, The Duchess said: "We can learn a certain amount from the outside, by tracking it through the news, but it's not the same as being able to truly understand what it's like on the ground. Much of my life, I have been advocating for women and girls' rights, so this has been an incredibly powerful moment to hear first-hand from all of you.
"I have been so moved by what I have heard. The leadership and strength shown by these women is remarkable, and at a time when the issue of gender and gender-based violence is at the forefront of people's minds, I hope their voices will resonate and not only give comfort but also create change.'
Gender-based violence has been a burning issue in the county in recent weeks. The murder of film and media studies student Uyinene Mrwetyana started the #AmINextMovement with widespread protests. (Read more here)
On Friday, Meghan paid a private visit to her memorial site.
One of the guests, Sophia, was one of the women who led the march of 20 000 women to the Union Buildings to protest apartheid pass laws in 1956.
(Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and anti-apartheid activist Sophia Williams-De Bruyn. Photo: British High Commission)
Her Royal Highness said Sophia was an inspiration for all women.
"I was recently reminded that the first one up the mountain often gets knocked down the hardest, but makes way for everyone behind them. These brave women have been able to see how their struggle can pave the way for so many. For all young women organizers, activists and campaigners today, you must keep at it and know that you are working for this generation and the next, and also continuing the legacy of the generations of great women before you", said the duchess.
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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
Compiled by Leandra Engelbrecht.