Meghan Markle releases 40th birthday video on initiative to 'help women get back to work'

4 August 2021, 21:03

By Sophie Barnett

The Duchess of Sussex has released a video on her 40th birthday to launch an initiative to help mothers get back to work.

She was joined by Hollywood actress Melissa McCarthy in the video, which was shared on the Archewell website on Wednesday.

It marks the launch of her new initiative, 40x40, which aims to encourage women back into work after having children.

Seen for the first time since the birth of daughter Lilibet two months ago, and with The Duke of Sussex juggling in the background, the duchess promoted her new global project.

Her aim is to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work.

She has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce.

The Duchess of Sussex has announced her new initiative to help get women back to work
The Duchess of Sussex has announced her new initiative to help get women back to work. Picture: Alamy

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Among those who have committed 40 minutes of their time are singer Adele, poet Amanda Gorman, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and fashion designer Stella McCartney.

Meghan says when reflecting on turning 40, and the many things she is "grateful for", she was struck that "time" is "among our greatest and most essential gifts".

In a statement on the Archewell website, the duchess continued: "Time with our loved ones, time doing the things we love, time spent learning, laughing, growing, and the sacred time we have on this earth.

"Amongst the most valuable gifts of time is also time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change. To that last point, and with my 40th lap around the sun in mind, it made me wonder: what would happen if we all committed 40 minutes to helping someone else or to mentoring someone in need?"

The duchess claimed globally tens of millions of women had left the workforce during the past two years, in a large part due to the pandemic.

But many were still in unpaid roles like carers and she claimed research has shown fewer women than men will return to work as the pandemic recovery begins.

Meghan added: "I believe mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength, and for my birthday I have asked 40 friends, activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to help kick off a global effort by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to support women re-entering the workforce.

"With this time, I hope they each help someone advance a professional life on her own terms and I hope that they inspire countless others to give 40 minutes of their time as well."

The announcement comes as The Queen led birthday messages to the duchess, who turned 40 on Wednesday.

The official Twitter account for the royal family posted three pictures to mark the occasion, including a photo of Meghan, the Duke of Sussex and son Archie on their 2019 royal tour to South Africa.

The post said: "Wishing The Duchess of Sussex a very Happy Birthday today!"