The Duchess of Sussex has become patron of four organisations reflecting causes and issues close to her heart, including a charity supporting women.
That charity is Smart Works, which helps long-term unemployed and vulnerable women regain the skills, confidence and tools to succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives. Its aim is to dress 3,500 women for interviews this year.
Meghan has visited the charity’s base several times this past year, working with different women who have benefited from the charity’s support, helping them through coaching, styling and interview preparation.
“It’s not just donating your clothes and seeing where they land, but really being part of each other’s success stories as women,” the Duchess said this week.
“It’s saying: ‘Okay this is the blazer I wore that helped me land that interview and I want this to the piece that helps that woman have that part of her story.’ To know, as a women coming in, I imagine, that you have so many other women believing in you in all the next stages is the piece that makes it so special.”
The 37-year-old has volunteered with several other women focused projects in the past. One of her most recent endeavours was supporting ‘Together: Our Community Cookbook’, which showcases over 50 recipes from women whose community was affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
She’s also worked with the Myna Mahila Foundation and saw their work firsthand when she visited Mumbai in 2017. The foundation empowers women in urban slums by providing them with a network that supports them professionally and personally to help them grow as individuals and businesswomen. There’s also a huge focus on breaking taboos around menstrual hygiene by offering women access to low cost sanitary pads and accurate information at their doorstep.
Myna was one of the seven charities Meghan and Harry asked people to donate to rather than buy them wedding gifts.
One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Office for National Statistics, and two women in England and Wales are killed each week by a current or former partner. Refuge is a national charity working hard to support women and children escaping domestic violence. It relies on monetary donations to run a range of specialist services to help survivors access safety and rebuild their lives.
In the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’, there’s a scene where a woman steals sanitary pads because her local foodbank doesn’t have any to offer. Period poverty is an issue affecting thousands of women across the UK – it’s thought one in 10 girls are unable to afford sanitary items. Bloody Good Period provides sanitary products to asylum seeker drop in centres in London and Leeds, thanks to monetary donations from the public.
[Read more: 7 Things You Need To Know About Period Poverty]
Another charity supporting women who are at risk of being trapped in poverty is the Young Women’s Trust (YWT), which represents women aged 16-30 years old who are struggling to live on low or no pay in England and Wales. YWT offers free coaching and personalised advice on job applications, conducts research, runs campaigns and works with young women to build their confidence.
In December, the charity estimated that five million young people are struggling to make ends meet, with young women consistently more likely than young men to face money problems, workplace discrimination and worries about the future. Low pay and insecure work mean many young women are falling into debt and resorting to foodbanks, it added.
There are also charities supporting women’s health and equality. It’s a fact that men play more sport than women – self-consciousness about fitness, weight or sporting ability are all key factors. Additionally, UN Women found 49% of girls drop out of sport by the time they reach puberty.
There are other hurdles standing in the way, too. A survey of 1,152 women and men working in sport, plus 42 in-depth interviews, revealed that some women working in sport feel less valued, actively experience gender discrimination, believe they are paid less for doing the same role as men, face more challenges to progress and feel unfairly judged.
Women In Sport is working hard to change this. Its goal is to help more women and girls access sport, enabling them to live healthier and uninhibited lives.