Meghan Markle has written an impassioned letter to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer to make a plea for paid parental leave.
In the stirring letter, Meghan wrote from her own perspective as a mother to two children, 3-year-old Archie and four-month-old Lilibet. She explained that in the months following both their births, she and husband Prince Harry had the luxury of taking time off to spend settling into their new roles as parents.
“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,” she wrote.
“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 also spoke of her own childhood and growing up with two working parents—mum Doria Ragland and her now-estranged father Thomas Markle.
She described the excitement she used to feel as a child in eating a $5 salad at a popular US chain restaurant, but she was aware the expense associated with these kinds of novelties could not be taken for granted.
“I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky,” she added.
“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 discussed how paid parental leave could have positive knock-on effects for the US, including building, “A foundation that helps address mental health outcomes, health care costs, and economic strength at the starting line.”
In Australia, parents are eligible for a total of 20 weeks (between both the primary and secondary caregiver—the latter of whom is eligible for two weeks paid leave) or 100 payable days of payments.
Meghan concluded her letter: “This isn’t about Right or Left, it’s about right or wrong… This is about putting families above politics.”
“So, 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.”