My son was 19 when he first accompanied me to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women–CSW (where I serve as an NGO delegate for Federation EIL–the worldwide network of the Experiment in International Living.)
That year, NGO’s were offered seats at a UN Women event at the Manhattan Center in the nosebleed section of the Hammerstein Ballroom.
My son and I stood in line outside in the rain eating burgers from the 5 Guys across the street so that we could be there for the impressive (and long!) lineup of speakers–including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Clinton was followed up by Meghan Markle (unfamiliar to me), who silenced the room with the statistics she shared about the future of gender equality (predicted in 2095!)
But it was Markle’s personal story, referencing a Spic & Span commercial, that really clobbered me, in its simplicity, revealing the subtle magnitude of discrimination whose legacy pervades cultural norms and perpetuates an inequality that harms–all (and which I suddenly understood defined the trajectory of my own life which I had always viewed through an empowered lens.)
My son didn’t notice the tears sliding down my cheeks when he leaned in to ask: “How does that dress stay up on her shoulders?”
We hadn’t known then that Markle was a descendant of slaves and noblemen–a distant cousin to Prince Harry–who she would meet in the year to come–and who she will now wed.
(Turns out Meghan & Harry’s wedding is slated for May 19, 2018, my own wedding anniversary.)