Meghan Markle Shares How Women Can Overcome Criticism Like She Has
Meghan Markle sent a video message to the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up 2020 Leadership Summit on July 14. Her nine-minute speech commended the women of Girl Up on the leadership they have already shown in activism, and encouraged them to continue in the face of criticism.
No stranger to public scrutiny, the Duchess of Sussex gave the girls watching some tips for powering through the naysayers. Read her advice below and watch her full speech beginning at 1:21 into the video.
Meghan Markle knows you can’t avoid criticism, but you can do this
Markle has fielded criticism ever since she started dating Prince Harry. The critical response to the duke and duchess stepping back from royal duties is only the latest. Any leaders fighting for change are bound to face resistance, so Markle told them what to do.
“There will always be negative voices,” Markle said. “Sometimes those voices can appear to be outsized and sometimes they can appear to be painfully loud but you can use your own voice to drown out that noise because that’s what it is. It is just noise but your voices are those of truth and hope and your voices can and should be much louder. I know that.”
Meghan Markle says these dismissive comments are a sign activism is working
Markle also honed in on some criticism that may be the result of sexism. She noted that women especially often get dismissed when they present new ideas. The duchess said that is a sign you’re getting to them.
“Women have always historically gotten a lot of ‘Well, that isn’t how it’s done’ or ‘Yeah, that’s an idea but we’re going to do this instead,’” Markle said. “But when do we hear that as women? We hear that in the moments that we challenge the norms.”
When they start dismissing you, that may be when you have the most strength to cross the finish line, Markle says.
“So If that’s the case, I say to you keep challenging, keep pushing,” Markle said. “Make them a little uncomfortable because it’s only in that discomfort that we actually create the conditions to reimagine our standards, our policies and our leadership, to move towards real representation and meaningful influence over the structures of decisionmaking and power.”
Lastly, support each other
Markle acknowledged that there are more forums than ever to criticize women, or anyone trying to make positive change. She focused on the problems with internet and social media.
“What’s more, I think it’s important to really acknowledge the paradox of how this progress is both aided and impaired by our digital space,” Markle said. “Your generation is often referred to as the digital natives and you understand that our online world has the power to affirm and support as much as it does to harm.”
Although the online space may leave people more vulnerable to trolls and bullies, it also gives them an opportunity. Markle encourages women to band together to support each other and outnumber the critics.
“We’re not meant to be breaking each other down,” Markle said. “We are meant to be building each other up so use your voices both on and offline to do just that. Build each other up, support each other.”