Meghan Markle Advocates for Paid Leave and Recalls 'Making Ends Meet' in Letter to Congress

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Meghan Markle is sharing her personal story of struggle to help make the case for paid family leave. On Wednesday, the Duchess of Sussex spoke on behalf of all parents, in an open letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

In the letter, which was published by Paid Leave for All, Markle said that while she's not a politician, she felt it was her duty as a mom and an advocate to urge those who make the decisions to put a plan for paid family leave in place.

"I'm not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent," the letter began. "And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s why I’m writing to you at this deeply important time—as a mom—to advocate for paid leave."

An issue that the duchess said is that much more important amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a time in which she noted in a separate post on her 40th birthday, that women were exiting the workforce in the large numbers.

"Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities. At an alarming rate, millions of women dropped out of the workforce, staying home with their kids as schools and daycares were closed, and looking after loved ones full-time. The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost." she explained.

Markle continued, "For many, this sacrifice goes back further than the past 20 months; it's 20 or 30 years, even longer," Meghan continued, "decades of giving time, body, and endless energy not just in the pursuit of the American dream, but simply the dream of stability."

Later in the letter, the duchess looked back on her own upbringing and the struggles she witnessed her family go through as a child, sharing that she held a job at a young age. 

"I worked all my life and saved when and where I could—but even that was a luxury—because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car," she revealed.

Markle said that like "any parents," she and Prince Harry were overjoyed when they welcomed baby Lilibet, but like "many parents," they were overwhelmed and like "fewer parents" they weren't faced with the decision to spend those first few critical months with their daughter or going back to work.

"In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. 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," the mother-of-two added. "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. 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."

How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Shared Info About Baby Lilibet With Royal Family (Source)
Misan Harriman

"No family should be faced with these decisions," she went on to write. "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)."

Markle concluded the letter by advocating for a national paid-leave mandate for all American parents, something that she said would help take care of the country as a whole.

"In taking care of your child, you take care of your community, and you take care of your country—because when paid leave is a right, we’re creating a foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line," Markle stressed. "Paid leave should be 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. … This is about putting families above politics."

"On behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost," she wrote, before signing the letter.

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