If there's one thing Meghan Markle does not tolerate, it's inequality on any level. She has consistently used her voice and her platform for good, and now she's advocating for paid family leave in the U.S. in an open letter addressed directly to Congress.
“I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician,” she begins the letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent,” she continues. “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.”
“Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities,” Meghan writes. “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 acknowledges that this sacrifice for so many families existed long before the pandemic. She discusses her own upbringing, which is not unlike the type of background many of us can relate to—hard-working parents for whom a "4.99 salad bar" is a splurge or a special treat. She says that every American deserves stability without having to sacrifice their jobs or time with their children to do so.
She also writes about being a parent to two young children, and the many commonalities she shares with American parents—while also acknowledging her privilege.
"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. 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."
"No family should be faced with these decisions. 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)."
Instead of looking at the issue of a federally-mandated paid family leave as a "Right" or "Left" issue, Meghan tells Congress that it's about "right or wrong." Particularly because this type of legislation exists in most other countries.
"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," she points out. "Instead, as it stands now, we spend a fortune as a country paying into symptoms rather than causes."
"I’m writing to you on behalf of millions of American families who are using their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave should not be a place to compromise or negotiate."
She concludes the letter on a personal note, and also reminds Schumer and Pelosi that her words are on behalf of every American family.
“So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter,” Meghan said, before signing off with: “And on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.”