Watch 11-year-old Meghan Markle challenge traditional gender roles in sexist ad
Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle, on their first official public engagement, take part in a walkabout en route to visiting the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at the Contemporary Centre in Nottingham, England, Dec. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Published Friday, December 1, 2017 10:22AM EST
Even as an 11-year-old, Meghan Markle was passionate about standing up for women’s rights.
In a recently resurfaced video from the U.S. actor’s childhood, a young Markle is shown accompanied by her classmates in a social studies class in elementary school. The footage was shot for the Nickelodeon show “Nick News” in Los Angeles in 1993.
Markle and her fellow students can be seen viewing different commercials from the time and sharing their reactions to them. In an on-camera interview, Markle zeroes in on how many of the commercials for household items, such as cleaning and cooking products, were targeted towards females.
“I don’t think it’s right for kids to grow up thinking these things, that just Mom does everything,” she tells the interviewer. “It’s always Mom does this and Mom does that.”
One ad in particular caught Markle’s attention.
A commercial for Ivory dishwashing liquid showed a pile of dirty dishes crammed into a sink and a voice-over that said, “Women are fighting greasy pots and pans…”
Markle took issue with the company’s use of “women” and decided to do something about it. The video shows the young student sitting at her desk writing a letter to the Ivory’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, where she asks if they would change the script to say “people all over America” instead of “women.”
What seemed like a longshot actually paid off and the commercial was modified to include Markle’s suggestion.
Linda Ellerbee, the host of “Nick News,” reflected on Markle’s childhood accomplishment in a recent interview with Inside Edition.
“It was absolutely clear that this young woman was strong in her beliefs,” Ellerbee said. “It didn’t matter if she was 11-years-old, she believed in women, she believed in her own power and she wasn’t afraid to reach out and say, ‘I want my power. I want my rights.’”
Years later in 2015, after she had established herself as a successful actor, Markle reminisced about her early activism during a speech on gender equality at the UN Women’s conference in New York City.
“It was at that moment I realized the magnitude of my actions. At the age of 11, I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality,” she said.
Markle’s actions continue to reverberate today where she is an outspoken advocate for gender equality in her work with UN Women and World Vision. In fact, philanthropy was a shared interest Markle and her future husband Prince Harry bonded over early on in their relationship.
“It was really one of the first things we connected on, it was one of the first things we started talking about when we met, was just the different things that we wanted to do in the world and how passionate we were about seeing change. … that's what got date two,” Markle said during the couple’s interview with BBC News on Monday.