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Meghan Markle is celebrating her 40th birthday with a newly launched initiative, dubbed 40 Minutes of Mentorship, to support women who left the workforce during the pandemic.
The Duchess of Sussex made the announcement with the help of actress Melissa McCarthy in a two-minute video posted to the Archewell website on Wednesday. Markle is calling on 40 of her friends — including activists, athletes, artists and world leaders — to donate 40 minutes of their time and “help someone advance a professional life on her own terms,” according to a statement posted to the website.
“Because I’m turning 40, I’m asking 40 friends to donate 40 minutes of their time to help mentor a woman who is mobilizing back into the workforce,” Meghan said in the video announcement. “Over 2 million women in the U.S. alone and tens of millions around the world have lost their jobs due to COVID, and I think if we all do it, and all commit 40 minutes to some sort of act of service, we can create a ripple effect.”
The initiative, known officially as “40X40,” uses mentorship as a path to assisting women with rebuilding both their economic strength and confidence after a year that saw many women putting their professional lives on hold to juggle multiple personal and family responsibilities.
“In the past two years, and in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of millions of women around the world have left the workforce, including over two million women in the U.S.,” the initiative summary reads. “So many of these women are also shouldering the brunt of the crisis when it comes to unpaid labor, including schooling and caring for family members. And the latest research shows that fewer women than men will regain work as we recover from the pandemic.”
Adele, Amanda Gorman, Deepak Chopra, Gloria Steinem, José Andrés, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Stella McCartney are among those who have already pledged their time as part of the effort.
During the announcement video, Markle teases that she has an idea for her birthday and McCarthy — who does a quick and comedic wardrobe change featuring pearls, lace gloves and a tea cup — offers up several suggestions. That includes “another photoshoot under a tree where you’re looking very peaceful” and matching tattoos for the “twinsies” to a yacht party and a Suits reunion.
“Are you finally going to do a Suits reunion?” McCarthy exclaims, to which a confused but smiling Markle says, “I love Suits, but why would I do a Suits reunion for my birthday?”
“Why would the cast of Friends do a reunion for my birthday?” McCarthy responds, to which Markle politely jokes, “They did say they would only ever do it for historical events.”
The playful video, which includes both women Zooming with one another, also includes an outtake with McCarthy pitching an afternoon tea with chickens and Markle’s husband, Prince Harry, juggling outside her room’s window.
Markle politely turns down all of McCarthy’s suggestions, before expounding on her new mentorship effort. More details about how anyone can get involved — including mentoring and becoming a mentee — can be found on the Archewell website.
“With this time, I hope they each help someone advance a professional life on her own terms, and, I hope that they inspire countless others to give 40 minutes of their time as well,” Markle said of her mentoring friends.
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Melvin Van Peebles