'Feels like publicity stunt' Meghan Markle's new scheme dismissed by leading woman mentor

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Meghan Markle: Angela Levin criticises ‘phoney’ message

The Duchess of Sussex launched 40×40 today, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. Meghan also said she has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce. She added that when reflecting on turning 40, and the many things she is “grateful for”, she was struck that “time” is “among our greatest and most essential gifts” especially “time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change”.

However, Hannah Martin from the Talented Ladies Club, has shown scepticism for the new project as she branded it a “publicity stunt”.

Ms Martin, who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Enterprise, told MailOnline: “In principle it’s a great idea. Mentorship can be incredibly powerful, especially if your confidence has been knocked.

“The right person offering you tailored advice and encouragement will make an enormous difference.

“However, the keywords here are ‘right person’. The wrong words or poor advice can do more harm than good – however well-meaning they may be.

Meghan Markle's new project has been criticised

Meghan Markle’s new project has been criticised (Image: GETTY)

“I’ve spoken to women whose self-belief has been destroyed through working with the wrong mentor.

“I’m sad to say that this also feels a little like a publicity stunt to me. On the face of it it’s a great gesture, but beyond galvanising 40 of her friends to offer their time, there’s no structure or advice for how anyone can actually participate.

“If Meghan is genuinely passionate about helping two million women back to work, it would be good to see more insights shared on what specific problems these women face, and proposed, concrete solutions that are followed through with on-the-ground action from the right people.

“That really would be something to celebrate.”

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The Duchess of Sussex marked her birthday by releasing a video

The Duchess of Sussex marked her birthday by releasing a video (Image: ARCHEWELL)

Her comments came after Meghan claimed the women who had left working life during the pandemic were still in unpaid roles like carers and she claimed research has shown fewer women than men will return to work as the recovery begins.

Meghan added she believed “mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength”.

She said: “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.”

In her video, Meghan was joined by US actress Melissa McCarthy, who joked that they should get matching tattoos of both their faces, but the Duchess replied she has something similar on her back already.

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Meghan said she believed

Meghan said she believed “mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence” (Image: ARCHEWELL)

Meghan said in the video: “Because I’m turning 40 I’m asking 40 friends to donate 40 minutes of their time to help mentor a woman who is mobilising back into the workforce.

“Over two million in the US 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.”

Melissa was also caught in a dressing gown playing with a Rubik’s cube at the start of their video call.

But she quickly returned as if dressed for a Buckingham Palace garden party, due to wearing a floral dress, matching hat, white gloves and a china cup and saucer.

The Duchess turned 40 today

The Duchess turned 40 today (Image: EXPRESS)

She then told Meghan: “This will seem better for you”.

When Meghan says she has an idea for her 40th birthday, the actress guessed: “Is it another photoshoot under a tree, where you’re looking very peaceful?”

Her comment was a reference to the Sussexes announcing their second pregnancy by publishing a black and white image of the duchess lying in the duke’s lap under a tree.

Meghan replied to the actress that “peaceful under a tree is me every day”.

Harry and Meghan now live in the US after quitting royal life

Harry and Meghan now live in the US after quitting royal life (Image: GETTY)

Melissa then appeared disappointed Meghan was not having a “yacht party” but signed up for the project.

At the end, Meghan was shown blowing a candle out on a birthday cake, with the family dog Guy nearby.

Melissa also burst out laughing when she saw Harry juggling balls at a downstairs window and when Meghan turned around she laughed as well.



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