GESTURE: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle


A WOMEN’S charity based in Mum­bai’s slums is among select organisa­tions chosen by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as recipients of dona­tions in place of gifts for their royal wedding next month.  

Myna Mahila Foundation is among seven charities picked by the couple as they announced on Monday (9) that an­yone who might wish to mark their wed­ding day on May 19 should consider making a donation to one of the chari­ties, rather than sending a wedding gift.  

The foundation, which aims to offer Mumbai women stable employment close to their homes as well as breaking taboos around menstrual hygiene by of­fering them access to low-cost sanitary napkins, was chosen by Markle after she saw its work first-hand during a visit to India last year, Kensington Palace said.  

“Myna Mahila Foundation is delight­ed to be a part of this special occasion for Ms Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. This support will enable us to expand our reach into more urban slums in Mumbai, empowering local women through access to menstrual hygiene products and em­ployment opportunities,” said Suhani Jalota, who founded the charity in 2015.  

The foundation provides training in women’s health, English, maths and life skills such as self-defence. It also makes sanitary products which are then distrib­uted by women from the city’s slums as part of professional and personal sup­port to help them “grow as individuals and businesswomen”.  

The organisation helps around 10,000 women every month. Markle had written about the charity in Time magazine after her visit to Mumbai in March last year.  

“During my time in the slum commu­nities outside of Mumbai, I shadowed women who are part of a microfinance system where they manufacture sanitary napkins and sell them within the com­munity,” the American actress wrote.  

“The namesake of the organisation, Myna Mahila Foundation, refers to a chatty bird (Myna) and Mahila meaning woman. The name echoes the undercur­rent of this issue: we need to speak about it, to be chatty about it,” she said.  

Kensington Palace said Harry and Markle do not have any formal relation­ships with the charities chosen.  

“The couple have chosen charities which represent a range of issues that they are passionate about, including sport for social change, women’s empowerment, conservation, the environment, home­lessness, HIV and the armed forces. Many of these are small charities, and the couple are pleased to be able to amplify and shine a light on their work,” the palace said.  

Among other charities chosen are the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA), which supports children growing up with HIV and their families across the UK and Ireland; Crisis, Britain’s national charity for homeless people; Scotty’s Lit­tle Soldiers, a charity for bereaved Armed Forces children; StreetGames, which us­es sport to change lives across Britain; Surfers Against Sewage, a UK-based ma­rine conservation and campaigning charity; and the Wilderness Foundation UK, which promotes the benefits and enjoyment of wild nature.  

“Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle are incredibly grateful for the goodwill shown to them since the announcement of their engagement and are keen that as many people as possible benefit from this generosity of spirit,” the palace state­ment added.  

Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, are set to wed at St Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19.