As Congress debates family leave policies, Meghan Markle is lending her voice in support of change
As Congress debates Joe Biden‘s sweeping Build Back Better plan, there’s one part of it that has some celebrity support. Part of the package would include funding and regulation for parents to take paid leave after having children — and Meghan Markle was happy to lend her voice in support of that part of the legislation.
In a letter shared by the advocacy group Paid Leave For All, Markle addressed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and urged them to garner support for family leave policies from their side of the aisle.
“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.”
Markle, who is mom to 2-year-old Archie and 4-month-old Lili, continued, writing that the new “American dream” is stability for families.
“I started working (at the local frozen yogurt shop) at the age of 13,” she shared. “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.”
In her letter, Markle recognized that she and her husband, Prince Harry, have much more privilege than the average American family.
“Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed,” she 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.”
Markle wrote that what she really wants for America’s future is for more families to have the choice she did — to be able to stay home with their new babies without worrying about whether they’ll be able to support their families.
“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,” she said. “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. 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.”