The Duchess of Sussex urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to make paid leave a reality for American workers.
“Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists,” she wrote in an open letter.
“If we’re going to create a new era of family first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.”
Markle detailed how the pandemic has “exposed long-existing fault lines” when millions of women dropped out of the workforce to take over childcare, in the wake of closed schools and daycares.
“The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost,” she went on.
“For many, this sacrifice goes back further than the past 20 months; it’s 20 or 30 years, even longer—decades of giving time, body, and endless energy not just in the pursuit of the American dream, but simply the dream of stability.”
Markle detailed that she “grew up on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler,” because it’s all her family could afford to do, and worked since the age of 13 to be able to make ends meet.
“People in our country work incredibly hard, and yet the ask is soft: for a level playing field to achieve their version of a common dream—what is fair, and equal, and right,” she continued.
Markle said that with the arrival of her and Prince Harry’s second child, Lillibet, they were not “confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work,” and knew they had the luxury to avoid choosing between devoting time to their family or losing out on wages.
“No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan),” Markle wrote.
“I know how politically charged things can—and have—become. But this isn’t about Right or Left, it’s about right or wrong. This is about putting families above politics,” the letter concluded. “And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.”