The Duchess of Sussex has written an open letter to members of the US Congress in support of a comprehensive paid parental leave programme.
Meghan, a mother of two, gave birth to her daughter Lili in June, and she opened up about how “overwhelmed” she and Prince Harry were in the first few weeks.
She also expressed her dissatisfaction with the country’s lack of comprehensive paid leave for all parents, urging Congress to agree that “if we are to continue to be exceptional, we cannot be the exception.”
“My husband and I welcomed our second child in June,” the former actress wrote. We were ecstatic, as any parent would be. We, like many other parents, were completely overwhelmed. We weren’t faced with the harsh reality of either spending those first few crucial months with our baby or returning to work, like so few other parents.
“We knew we could take her home and devote every waking moment to our children and family at that crucial (and sacred) stage. We knew that by doing so, we wouldn’t have to make the difficult decisions about childcare, work, and medical care that so many people face on a daily basis.”
“I’m writing to you on behalf of millions of American families who are raising their voices to say that comprehensive paid leave is not a place to compromise or negotiate,” Meghan continued.
“In fact, paid leave policies are already in place in most countries.” Estonia, for example, provides new parents with over a year and a half of paid leave. Many other countries have robust programmes that allow both biological and adoptive parents to spend months at home with their children.
“By contrast, no one in the United States is guaranteed a single day of paid leave by the federal government.” And only about one out of every four workers has access to paid family leave through their employer.”
“I know how politically charged things can—and have—become,” she concluded. But this isn’t a matter of right or wrong; it’s a matter of right or wrong. It’s about prioritising families over politics.
“And, for a change, it’s something on which we all seem to agree.” Let this be a shared goal that unites us at a time when everything seems to be dividing us.
“So, on behalf of my family, Archie, Lili, and Harry, I thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to make sure this crucial moment does not pass us by.”
Meghan has collaborated on this project with three national campaigns: Paid Leave for All, Marshall Plan for Moms, and PL+US.