Young Kiwi leader has an inspirational chat with Meghan Markle

Must See 31/10/2018

The efforts of a 19-year-old working to encourage women into science, technology, engineering and math fields have earned the backing of Meghan Markle.

Founder of GirlBoss NZ Alexia Hilbertidou met the Duchess of Sussex shortly after Her Royal Highness spoke at Government House on Sunday night.

The speech was themed on the 125th anniversary of women's right to vote in New Zealand.

"Meghan was incredibly supportive of GirlBoss New Zealand's work," Ms Hilbertidou told Newshub.

"To have her support is very rewarding and motivating for us at GirlBoss to keep inspiring New Zealand's young women."

Newshub.

Their five-minute conversation was a bit of a whirlwind for Ms Hilbertidou, but she recalls Ms Markle exclaiming, "Wow! It's lovely to see you," before wishing Ms Hilbertidou the best of luck with her work.

The young leader was among honoured guests watching Ms Markle address political figures at Government House on Sunday.

"After hearing her speech, I felt further motivated and inspired to continue GirlBoss New Zealand's work for gender equality in our country," she said.

"She was very supportive and excited, and emphasised the importance of our work empowering young women. Meghan's speech was empowering.

"As a young feminist myself, to have someone with the influence of HRH Meghan Markle speak about the importance of feminism was incredibly motivating."

It's not the first time Ms Hilbertidou has come face to face with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Newshub.

Hilbertidou was the recipient of the Queens Young Leaders Award, travelling to London to be given the accolade from the Queen, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in June.

The award scheme sees 60 Commonwealth citizens chosen each year from over 20,000 nominations for young people under 30, for Services to Commonwealth citizens and making a positive difference in their community.

"It is recognition that the work of GirlBoss to encourage women in to STEM, entrepreneurship and higher leadership will be crucial in ensuring that women thrive in the future of work," Ms Hilbertidou said.

"To empower a woman is to empower her chilldren, her family and her community.

"My hope is that in New Zealand and in the world, both men and women will have the freedom and possibility to decide who they are.

"I told Prince Harry that only 2 percent of the NZX50 [stock exchange] is women, and he was shocked and agreed with me when I said that the young women I work with will go forth and change that."

Newshub.