JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Meghan, wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, said on Tuesday that empowering women through education could be transformational for communities during a visit to Johannesburg University in South Africa.
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, makes a speech during an event dedicating the Liwonde National Park and Mangochi Forest to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy conservation initiative at Liwonde National Park, Malawi, September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Dominic Lipinski/Pool
Meghan, who is visiting southern Africa with Harry and their four-month-old son Archie, is herself a university graduate and women’s rights advocate, and she spoke of how “deeply important and meaningful” the issue of education was for her.
“When a woman is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community and starting an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that,” the Duchess of Sussex told a roundtable of academics and students.
“Education, I think higher education specifically, is such a key element for growth, economic growth but also personal growth and development,” she added.
Meghan took over in January from Queen Elizabeth, Harry’s grandmother, as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), a role the queen had held for more than three decades.
On Tuesday Meghan announced three new “gender grants” from the ACU for South African universities, the goal of which she said was gender equality and supporting women working in higher education and research roles.
The duchess also announced four new Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships that she said would see students from Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria study in South Africa next year.
While Meghan and Archie have stayed in South Africa, Harry has also visited Botswana, Angola and Malawi. On Tuesday he was due to tour the Mauwa Health Centre in Malawi as well as see a pharmacy and youth reproductive health outreach programme.
Both the United States and Britain have supported, via this project, the introduction of solar-powered storage units to provide life-saving medicines where they are most needed.
Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne, has been visiting southern Africa for two decades for holidays and conservation work, but this trip marked his first visit to Malawi and Angola in an official capacity.
On Monday Harry watched Malawian national park rangers and British soldiers simulate an anti-poaching drill, posted photos of trees on National Geographic’s Instagram account and urged greater global efforts to protect the environment.
Later on Tuesday, Meghan will visit a school to learn about a charity that gets British aid funds for its work to tackle sexual violence in schools.
Harry is due to rejoin his family on Tuesday evening in Johannesburg, where on Wednesday they will tour a township and meet Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel.
The couple will also attend a business reception and meet President Cyril Ramaphosa before flying back to London on Wednesday evening.
Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Gareth Jones