Duchess Meghan stepped out to the University of Johannesburg on Oct. 1 to announce three new grants for women’s education in South Africa.
The 38-year-old mother participated in a roundtable discussion that was run by one of her patronages, the Association of Commonwealth Universities. While there, the Duchess of Sussex spoke about the challenges women around the world, including South Africa, face in accessing education.
“The goal here is to be able to have gender equality, to be able to support women as they are working in research and higher education roles,” she said. “And also to be able to have workshops, convene things that are really helping people understand the importance of gender equality. True to what you said, 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 three Gender Grants apply to the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape province, and the University of the Western Cape, in the Cape Town suburb of Bellville.
Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., Meghan said it is important for universities to “take the first step” toward female education to further empower women. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase,” she continued. “Just take the first step.”
“Sometimes access to education can seem so big, you wonder where to even begin,” Meghan also said. “So you begin with one student, or one school. You simply begin. And that’s when we see change.”
Students who were waiting to meet Meghan at the engagement praised her work with women and girls.
“I think she is a great person,” Samukelisiwa Nomusa Shongwe , 19, said, according to HELLO! UK. “She has done so many things. She has contributed to society, especially to African society. She is very interested in playing a positive role by speaking about gender equality and gender abuse.”
Tuni Mampame, another student at the event, agreed.
“To know that somebody that looks like me, who is inspired as me, who possibly has the same background as me is actually thinking of that, is going for it and is getting the necessary support to change different aspects and different parts of our country and our continent… [I’m] inspired, I think I’m going to use that word a lot today, inspired!” she said, according to People.
Meghan has championed women’s rights, equality and fighting gender-based violence during her time in South Africa. She’s done a lot of work on these issues over the last week alone. On Sept. 26, she met with women’s rights activists and leaders in a private session at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Cape Town before she stepped out to leave a note at the site where 19-year-old student Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally murdered in the city. Her slaying has outraged South Africa. On Sept. 29, she Skyped in to an engagement Prince Harry had in Malawi, where he learned about how the Campaign for Female Education is helping women and girls attend secondary school throughout Africa.
It’s safe to say the connections Meghan has made during her short time in the country will be ones she’ll remember and continue to support when she and Harry return to the UK on Oct. 2!