Meghan Markle Calls for Paid Leave in a Moving Open Letter to Congress

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Photo credit: Pool/Samir Hussein - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool/Samir Hussein - Getty Images

Meghan Markle is advocating for paid parental leave for parents across the nation.

The Duchess of Sussex addressed her letter, which was published on Paidleaveforall.com, to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passionately writing about why nationally mandated paid leave is essential for all American parents.

"I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent," began Meghan's letter. "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."

The duchess continued, "Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities. 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.

"For many, this sacrifice goes back further than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer," continued Meghan. "Decades of giving time, body, and endless energy not just in the pursuit of the American dream, but simply the dream of stability."

In the letter, Meghan reflected on her own upbringing. She wrote that as a child, she witnessed her family's struggles balancing parenthood and finances and held a job from a young age. The duchess also mentioned her newborn daughter, Lilibet Diana, acknowledging that own financial circumstances provide a level of ease that most American families can't access.

"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," added Meghan. "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," wrote the duchess. "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)."

Meghan concluded her letter by advocating for a national paid leave mandate for all American parents, arguing that doing so not only takes care of communities, but the country as a whole.

"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," said Meghan. "Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists...This is about putting families above politics."

Meghan signed the letter from her entire family, writing "On behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost."

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