The Duchess of Sussex began a series of visits to community-focused women’s charities close to the couple’s temporary Vancouver Island home this week, stopping by at an organization that has spent the past 21 years promoting rights and equality for young girls.
Justice For Girls was one of a few visits made by Meghan to local charities and organizations in Vancouver on Tuesday, January 14, after a Sussex aide reached out to share that the duchess finds their work “credible and compelling” and was eager to learn more.
Over tea (and note taking), Meghan spent an hour listening to stories from staff at the non-profit organization and spoke to the group about her commitment to advancing gender equity and other women’s issues. “We were very moved by the duchess visiting us despite terrible weather conditions in Vancouver and her very recent arrival,” co-director Zoe Craig-Sparrow tells BAZAAR.com. “We were struck by how engaged and informed she was on the issues we discussed, and how quickly and gracefully she put us at ease.”
“She was well-informed about the rights of girls and women and the need to challenge social inequality in a way that is holistic and global,” adds Craig-Sparrow. “Some of the issues we talked about included violence against girls; poverty and how it impacts access to education; girls’ rights in relation to the environment; leadership globally on issues of social and environmental justice; parallels between the struggles of girls in Canada with girls around the world; the need to approach social change in a holistic [and] integrated way, and how our proposed Justice for Girls Center aims to do just that.”
One of the key topics discussed during the meeting was Canada’s current and ongoing epidemic of violence against Indigenous girls and women, which has seen over 4,000 Indigenous women murdered or go missing across the country in the past 30 years. “This work is critically important in Canada where the impacts of colonization continue to harm indigenous girls and women through epidemic violence, social and economic inequality, environmental racism and denial of the rights of Indigenous peoples,” explains Craig-Sparrow, who was born and raised on Vancouver’s only First Nations band government, the Musqueam Indian Band.
Founded in 1999, Justice For Girls was created to address the needs and vulnerabilities of girls, particularly in relation to homelessness, poverty, and violence. As the charity underlines, true equality can only exist once these issues have been eliminated.
On the same day, Meghan also paid a visit to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, which provides a safe space offering everything from meals to internet access to women and children in one of Vancouver’s poorest areas.
For the the women working at Justice For Girls, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s plans to spend substantial time in the region makes for an exciting time. Says Craig-Sparrow, “[Meghan] will bring her commitment and intelligence to the issues she cares about, especially the rights of women and girls, and will use her position to help.”