Meghan urges men to honor the women in their lives

Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, joins in a discussion of the "Senior Debate Squad" at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, Essex, in eastern London, during a surprise visit to celebrate International Women's Day, Friday, March 6, 2020. Meghan visited the school, addressing pupils in an assembly ahead of the worldwide celebration of women's achievements on Sunday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)
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LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry’s wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has visited a school to offer an International Women’s Day message with an appeal to men to honor the women in their lives.

The surprise visit Friday took place at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham in east London. The community was the site of famous strikes by female sewing machinists at a Ford plant, an equal pay fight depicted in the 2010 film “Made in Dagenham.”

In one of her final duties as a senior British royal, Meghan urged the boys in the school assembly of 700 students to “continue to value and appreciate the women in your lives and also set the example for some men who are not seeing it that same way.”

“You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life, protect them,” she said. “Make sure that they are feeling valued and safe. And let’s all just rally together to make International Women’s Day something that is not just on Sunday, but frankly feels like every day of the year.”

The Duchess of Sussex asked for a male volunteer to offer their thoughts on the importance of International Women’s Day. Aker Okoye, 16, raced to the stage, greeting her with what appeared to be an air kiss to her cheek.

“She really is beautiful, innit?” he said as he took the podium. “I had to speak the truth there.”

Meghan gave him a hug and later praised his “incredible confidence”.