JOHANNESBURG/MAUWA, Malawi (Reuters) – Meghan, wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, said on Tuesday that empowering women through education could be transformational for communities during a visit to Johannesburg University in South Africa.
Meghan, who is visiting southern Africa with Harry and their four-month-old son Archie, is herself a university graduate and women’s rights advocate, and she spoke of how “deeply important and meaningful” the issue of education was for her.
“When a woman is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community and starting an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that,” the Duchess of Sussex told a roundtable of academics and students.
“Education, I think higher education specifically, is such a key element for growth, economic growth but also personal growth and development,” she added.
Meghan took over in January from Queen Elizabeth, Harry’s grandmother, as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), a role the queen had held for more than three decades.
She announced three new “gender grants” from the ACU for South African universities, the goal of which she said was gender equality and supporting women working in higher education and research roles.
The duchess also announced four new Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships that she said would see students from Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria study in South Africa next year.
Later on Tuesday, Meghan visited the offices of ActionAid, a non-governmental organisation that works with women and girls living in poverty. She was welcomed with singing from staff and a bunch of flowers, a hug and drawings from young girls.
At ActionAid she discussed violence against women and girls with representatives from various organisations and then visited a local school to meet girls aged between 12 and 16.
While Meghan and Archie have stayed in South Africa, Harry has also visited Botswana, Angola and finally Malawi, where on Tuesday he visited the Mauwa Health Centre.
Crowds gathered outside the remote clinic, which serves 23,000 people, hoping to catch a glimpse of Harry as he met Health Minister Jappie Mhango, local officials and aid workers.
On a tour of the clinic, he was shown its ‘pharmacy-in-a-box’ – a low-cost, solar-powered, air-conditioned storage facility for medicines.
Emmanuel Moses, the officer in charge of the health centre, said shortages of drugs had previously meant the clinic had to refer even minor cases elsewhere, but with the pharmacy it could now do much more to help.
The pharmacy, funded by the British and U.S. governments, is one of 353 across Malawi that health workers say have reduced theft and wastage of medicines.
Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne and has been visiting southern Africa for two decades for holidays and conservation work, will rejoin his family in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday the couple will tour a township and meet Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel. They will also attend a business reception and meet President Cyril Ramaphosa before flying back to London on Wednesday evening.
Reporting by Emma Rumney in JOHANNESBURG and Frank Phiri in MAUWA; Editing by Gareth Jones