NEW YORK ― Meghan Markle brought two unexpected guests to the 2023 Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards on Tuesday, where she spoke about her “greater value and purpose in life” during her acceptance speech.
The Duchess of Sussex stepped out alongside her husband, Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland, at the Ziegfeld Ballroom gala in New York City. The event, billed as “Celebrating Generations of Progress and Power,” marked the 50th anniversary of the Ms. Foundation.
Meghan was a recipient of the Woman of Vision Award, presented to her by Gloria Steinem, a Ms. Foundation for Women co-founder, and Teresa C. Younger, the foundation’s president and CEO. The royal was recognized for her “global advocacy to empower and advocate on behalf of women and girls.”
Younger, standing on the stage alongside Steinem, introduced Meghan as a “passionate advocate for mental health and family care” who “believes that representation matters.” She called the duchess a “cultural catalyst for positive change” before inviting the royal to the stage amid rousing applause.
Meghan began her speech by thanking Steinem “for the inspiration that you are, for your mentorship, your sage advice, your extraordinarily cheeky sense of humor and, of course, for your incredible friendship.”
The royal reminisced about growing up and reading Ms. Magazine, co-founded by Steinem and published through the Ms. Foundation from 1978 to 1987, and said her mom had a subscription.
“Having these pages in our home, it signaled to me that there was just so much more than the dolled-up covers and those images that you would see on the grocery store covers,” Meghan said. “It signaled to me that substance mattered.”
The royal said “Ms. was formative” in her “cocooning” as she transformed from a young feminist to a grown activist.
“It piqued my curiosity, and it became the chrysalis for the woman that I would become and that I am today,” she said. “I am a woman who remains inspired and driven by this organization, and by those around me.”
Meghan continued: “You know, repetition is recognition, as they say. And the narrative on repeat that surrounded me allowed me to recognize that part of my greater value and purpose in life was to advocate for those who felt unheard, to stand up to injustice, and to be not afraid of saying what you know is true, and what is just, and what is right.”
“So, whether your inspiration comes from a magazine on your coffee table from your childhood, or an article that you read yesterday, an experience that you had today — maybe tonight, even — or a moment that you will just walk right into tomorrow, I suppose the point is it’s just never too late to start, You can be the visionary of your own life.”
The Duchess of Sussex was one of four women receiving the Woman of Vision Award. Other honorees were Latosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute; Wanda Irving, co-founder of Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project, which focuses on Black maternal health disparities; and Kimberly Inez McGuire, the executive director of URGE (which stands for Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity).
The foundation also honored Olivia Julianna with the Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award. Julianna is an abortion rights activist and the director of politics and government affairs at Gen-Z for Change.
Rebekah Bruesehoff was the recipient of the Free to Be You and Me Award, which aims to recognize her advocacy work for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Meghan, LaTosha, Wanda, Kimberly, Olivia, and Rebekah are incredible leaders,” Younger said in a statement in April. “And we are grateful to be able to shine a light on their many accomplishments and tireless work on behalf of gender and racial equity across the country and the world.”
Tuesday night’s red carpet and gala was the first public appearance for the Duchess of Sussex since April 24, when she and Prince Harry attended a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game.
The Sussex’s Archewell Foundation recently shared an update about some of the work Meghan and Harry have done in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.
The couple recently sat down with youth organization AHA! Santa Barbara, where they spoke with a group of teenagers about social media and the pressures that accompany social media use, and how that can all affect mental health.
“These important perspectives and experiences help us understand how mental wellness intersects with the online world, and what it means to promote digital wellness in a digital age,” says a statement on the couple’s Archewell website, where followers of Harry and Meghan can read direct updates about the royals. The couple do not have social media accounts themselves.