During The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official visit to Fiji, the Duchess made the following speech, at the University of South Pacific’s campus in Suva, highlighting the vital importance of education.
Bula! It is a great privilege to be with all of you today.
As a university graduate, I know the personal feeling of pride and excitement that comes with attending university. From the moment you receive your acceptance letter, to the exams you spend countless late nights studying for, the lifelong friendships you make with your fellow alumni, and the moment you receive your diploma. The journey of higher education is an incredible, impactful and pivotal one.
I am also fully aware of the challenges of being able to afford this level of schooling for many people around the world – myself included. It was through scholarships, financial aid programmes and work-study where my earnings from a job on campus went directly towards my tuition – that I was able to attend university. And, without question, it was worth every effort.
Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital. Providing them with access to education is the key to economic and social development. Because when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but also for those around them.
While progress has been made in many areas across the Commonwealth, there is always scope to offer more opportunities to the next generation of young adults, and specifically to young women.
The Association of Commonwealth Universities, which has Her Majesty The Queen is Patron of, supports universities to promote equality in their own institutions. I am pleased to announce today that two new grants will be awarded to Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific, allowing each of them to run workshops which empower their female staff.
This means that female faculty members are able to encourage others to follow in their footsteps and enter higher-education, and that more women become part of the decision-making process in academic institutions. Grants like this ensure that women are provided with the training and skills to operate effectively in their roles, and those with leadership potential are given the opportunity to be heard and recognised at the most senior level.
It is wonderful to join you here today and we look forward to learning more about your academic endeavours, and the work you plan to do as future leaders and as change-makers!
My husband Harry and I, wish you all the very best of luck as you continue your studies and work. Your efforts now will help to make a positive future for each of you and your communities at large – congratulations to you all!