US President Donald Trump and the Duchess of Sussex may each have powerful roles in women’s feminism, according to singer and activist Annie Lennox.
She said Mr Trump has been “inadvertently helpful” in drumming up support for women’s rights through his “alarming” rhetoric.
Meghan Markle has an important part to play because she is a high-profile mixed race woman with a potentially strong platform to speak out, she said.
Lennox was among a line-up of famous faces and global campaigners – including Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst – at the #March4Women rally for gender equality in central London ahead of International Women’s Day.
The former Eurythmics star described the event, backed by Care International UK, as “a moment for us all to become inspired” as a packed audience heard about the fight for equality at home, in the workplace, in healthcare and elsewhere.
Ahead of the rally, Lennox said of Meghan: “She is extraordinarily well known now and probably one of the most well-known women in the world by now.
“The fact that she is of mixed race, to me this is a wonderful opportunity for her to advocate and for her to say it does not matter what your skin is and say women demand power and empowerment.
“Also she is going to soon be a mother and mothers need to be treated with respect.”
Lennox pointed out that across the world women need access to maternal health care, contraception and healthy reproductive care.
She added: “If she (Meghan) is given the platform to speak about this, which remains to be seen because she is in a very conservative background, I think she could also be a remarkable agent for change.”
Comments made by Mr Trump in a leaked 2005 video in which he bragged about grabbing “women by the pussy” made global headlines during the US presidential campaign.
Lennox said: “He has been very helpful inadvertently to the feminist movement.
“What he said was so objectionable that millions of women and men came out to the streets to protest and say ‘no we cannot have locker room talk and you can not have this attitude against us’.”
There is also a need for everyone, regardless of their background, to have role models such as Nobel peace prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, Lennox said.
She described the Pakistani female education activist as “an extraordinary beacon of hope, power, strength and messaging to girls of her own age and background”.
Actors Helena Bonham Carter, David Tennant, entertainer Sue Perkins and singer Beverley Knight also took part in the gender equality rally.
The event also marked 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which meant by law a person could not be barred by gender or marriage from the exercise of any public function.
Organisers called for a global law to protect women worldwide from sexual harassment, violence and workplace abuse.
In her well-travelled career as an award-winning singer, Lennox said she has seen the contrast between the taken for granted resources of having clean running water, a roof over your head and education in rich countries compared to people who have nothing.
“Beyond the rhetoric and talk, which is essential, we must find ways to make changes and change in the law,” she said.
“The law must represent and protect women and girls everywhere.
“I have seen the lack of empowerment for myself everywhere and therefore I feel it is incumbent in me as a women to be a change maker and contribute.
“There is never going to be a day when this issue is not close to my heart – never. “
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