A passionate humanitarian alongside her acting work in US paralegal drama Suits, Meghan Markle has now written an essay on the stigma surrounding menstruation, inspired by a trip to India.
After continuing her advocacy work in the deprived communities of Delhi and Mumbai, India, the 35-year-old girlfriend of Prince Harry learned about the issues and challenges the women and girls who live there encounter.
Her visit particularly focuses on education, hygiene and empowerment among other aspects, and the experience has lead Markle to pen as essay about female shame surrounding menstruation on International Women's Day (8 March).
In the Time.com piece, titled How Periods Affect Potential, Markle expresses her views on the stigma around periods and lack of access to proper sanitation, inhibiting young women from completing school.
She writes: "From sub-Saharan Africa to India, Iran, and several other countries, the stigma surrounding menstruation and lack of access to proper sanitation directly inhibit young women from pursuing an education.
"Based on societal ignominy in the developing world, shame surrounding menstruation and its direct barrier to girls education remains a hushed conversation. As a result, both household dialogue and policy making discussions often leave Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) off the table."
Markle goes on to revealing that 113 million girls aged 12-14 in India are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health.
She continues: "During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely.
"Furthermore, with minimal dialogue about menstrual health hygiene either at school or home due to the taboo nature of the subject, many girls believe their bodies are purging evil spirits, or that they are injured once a month; this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure. All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl's dream for a more prolific future."
Markle – who has been dating fellow humanitarian and British royal Harry since summer 2016 – is a United Nations advocate as well as an actress. She has also worked with organisations including World Vision, One Young World and Myna Mahila Foundation to achieve the equality for women worldwide.
The Los Angeles-born star, now living in Toronto, Canada, became the Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, travelling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign last year. As Counsellor for One Young World, she spoke at the annual summit in Dublin in 2014 on the topics of gender equality and modern-day slavery.
Despite remaining low-key on Instagram since news of her royal romance broke last year, Markle posted a written quote by Nayyirah Waheed on the social media sharing site in commemoration of International Women's Day (embed above).
Read Markle's full essay here.