Meghan Markle urges congressional leaders to fight for paid parental leave
“Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed,” the Duchess of Sussex wrote about welcoming her daughter with Prince Harry.
“Over the past 20 months, the pandemic has exposed long-existing fault lines in our communities,” she wrote. “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.”
Meghan continued that the real “American dream” is stability.
“I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13,” she wrote. “I waited tables, babysat, and piecemealed jobs together to cover odds and ends. I worked all my life and saved when and where I could — but even that was a luxury — because usually it was about making ends meet and having enough to pay my rent and put gas in my car.”
Meghan, who shares son Archie, 2, and Lili, 4 months, with husband Prince Harry, shared that her current circumstance sets her apart from many American parents.
“Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed,” the mom of two wrote. “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.”
Meghan’s letter comes as President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which includes paid parental and family leave policies, faces pushback in the Senate.
“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,” Meghan shared. “I know how politically charged things can—and have—become. But this isn’t about Right or Left, it’s about right or wrong. This is about putting families above politics.”
She added, “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. If we’re going to create a new era of family first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.
“Over 2 million women in the U.S. alone and tens of millions around the world have lost their jobs due to COVID, and I think if we all do it and all commit 40 minutes to some sort of act of service we can create a ripple effect,”