Duchess of Sussex calls on officials to not ‘compromise or negotiate’ on paid family leave
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex and a Montecito resident, penned an open letter to Congress this week in support of paid family leave.
“I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent,” the Los Angeles native and former TV actress wrote. “And because you and your congressional colleagues have a role in shaping family outcomes for generations to come, that’s why I’m writing to you at this deeply important time — as a mom — to advocate for paid leave.”
The letter, which was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, details the struggles of working families during the last 20 months of the pandemic. Within the text, Meghan noted that women have dropped out of the workforce “at an alarming rate” during the pandemic to stay home with kids when schools or daycares were closed.
“The working mom or parent is facing the conflict of being present or being paid. The sacrifice of either comes at a great cost,” the duchess wrote.
The letter comes as Democrats remain in the midst of negotiations for a sweeping budget reconciliation package that aims to address many of President Joe Biden’s priorities, such as the climate crisis, health care and child care support.
President Biden had originally asked legislators to approve 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, but several national news sources reported this week that the plan could be reduced to four weeks and only apply to families that earn less than $100,000.
In her letter, the duchess recalled her childhood experience of eating the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler and getting her first job at a frozen yogurt shop at age 13, noting that she knew her parents worked hard to provide for her family.
Meghan, who is now the mother of two, notes that her position has since changed but said that “too many Americans are forced to shortchange themselves when it comes to what matters most to them.” She and her husband, Prince Harry, welcomed their second child, Lilibet in June, and her son, Archie, is two years old.
“In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child. Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed. Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work,” she wrote.
“We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family. We knew that by doing so we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.”
The duchess ends the letter with an impassioned plea for paid family leave to be a national right, writing that this issue is not about “right or left, it’s about right or wrong.”
“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,” the letter says.