Meghan Markle’s activism began long before she married into the British royal family. On Wednesday, humanitarian aid organization World Vision shared previously unseen footage of the former actress as she took on a trip to Delhi and Mumbai, India, in January of 2017. She had only been dating her husband, Prince Harry, at the time — and the two married one year later. The video shows Markle spending time with young girls, helping them to improve their school with a little “girl power,” according to Harper’s Bazaar.
British outlet ITV News shared the clip on Twitter this week. Markle spent the day at a school that had just received new toilet facilities, and took a moment to explain why this is so important.
“What we found is that the enrollment at this school went up three times once the latrines were built so that girls had access to clean hygiene and bathroom facilities while they’re at school,” the duchess explained.
During Markle’s visit, the duchess helped the schoolgirls paint a beautiful mural and plant a new flower, the latter of which she watered herself as the crowd cheered. Later, she watched performances of traditional dances, and met with a group of women while wearing green and gold saree.
At the end of the touching video, she posed with the students as they collectively shouted “Girl power!” at the camera.
View this post on Instagram
Just one week ago, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex asked that you kindly consider supporting various organisations around the world in lieu of sending gifts for the upcoming arrival of their first born. Not only did many of you lend your support, you took action. Their Royal Highnesses wanted you to know the impact of your support – the direct effect your donation, energy, and action made! YOU chose to be part of the collective good, and you have made a real difference. Whether a $5 donation, £1000 contribution, offering to volunteer, or spreading the word – you’ve played your part. And on behalf of The Duke and Duchess (and Baby Sussex), we thank you so much. YOUR IMPACT: @thelunchboxfund will now be able to provide a minimum of 100,000 additional hot nutritionally fortified meals to children in dire need across South Africa @littlevillagehq received donations from all over the world (from UAE to Hong Kong and the US), they’ve increased their monthly donors, had a surge in volunteer applications, and re-energized their hard working team of 200+ staff and volunteers @wellchild can now provide 300+ additional hours of specialist care by a Well Child Nurse for a child with serious health needs, allowing families to stay together at home vs in hospital @Baby2Baby have received over 5,000 products to disperse to children in need, including cribs, books, backpacks, diapers and have received monetary donations from around the globe – from Guadalajara to Italy. You made this happen. Thank you.
Markle spent a week in two slum communities, where she learned about the challenges that women and girls face in the area. At the time, a source explained to People that the trip was an important learning experience for the 37-year-old Suits star.
“She wanted to learn as much as possible from the women in these communities so she can see what is needed and how she might help them in the future,” they said.
Markle also wrote about the visit two months later, penning an essay for TIME. She explained that she wanted to meet women and girls who were “directly impacted by the stigmatization of menstrual health,” and see how it affected education. The actress noted that 113 million girls in India between the ages of 12-14 are at risk of dropping out of school due to the stigma surrounding menstrual health.
As a United Nations advocate, Markle has worked with causes focused on women and girls for five years. Her advocacy for gender equality continued when she joined the royal family. The Duchess of Sussex became the royal patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities — an association which encourages higher education — and Smart Works, an organization which offers support to unemployed women, according to Town & Country.