Meghan Markle is ringing in her special day in the best way she knows how—by launching an initiative to help others.

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To mark her 40th birthday on Wednesday, the Duchess of Sussex announced her latest project, 40×40, a global effort encouraging people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. For the program, Markle asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women reentering the workforce.

Per a press release, the effort is in response to the tens of millions of women around the world who have left their jobs in the past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In celebration of the launch, the mother of two shared a video from a talk with actress Melissa McCarthy, who was one of the many individuals who gave their time to mentor a woman in their community. Others included Adele, Amanda Nguyen, Deepak Chopra, Gloria Steinem, José Andrés, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Stella McCartney.

In the footage, Markle attempts to pitch her birthday project to her BFF, McCarthy. However, before she can get through the idea, the comedian interrupts with ideas of her own including a yacht party, a Suits reunion, another photoshoot in Markle’s backyard and even matching tattoos (all great suggestions, if you ask us). Finally, towards the end, the duchess explains the 40×40 initiative and McCarthy is immediately on board (only if she can wear her special hat). Watch the full clip here.

In addition to the video, Markle also released a very personal statement about the project.

“In reflecting on my 40th birthday and the many things I am grateful for, I’m struck that time is among our greatest and most eternal gifts. Time with our loved ones, time doing the things we love, time spent learning, laughing, growing, and the sacred time we have on this earth. Amongst the most valuable gifts of time is also time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change. To that last point, and with my 40th lap around the sun in mind, it made me wonder: what would happen if we all committed 40 minutes to helping someone else or to mentoring someone in need? And then what would happen if we asked our friends to do the same?”

She wrote, “In the past two years, and in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic, TENS OF MILLIONS OF women around the world have left the workforce, including over two million women in the U.S. So many of these women are also SHOULDERING THE BRUNT OF THE CRISIS when it comes to unpaid labor, including schooling and caring for family members. And the latest research shows that FEWER WOMEN THAN MEN WILL REGAIN WORK as we recover from the pandemic.”

“I believe mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength, and for my birthday, I have asked 40 friends, activists, athletes, artists, and world leaders to help kickoff a global effort by contributing 40 MINUTES OF MENTORSHIP to support women re-entering the workforce. 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.”

She finished the note by asking others to get involved. “If you are able, please JOIN US and pledge 40 minutes today in service of others in the way that feels right to you. The time that you donate can contribute to a GLOBAL WAVE OF SERVICE and set in motion meaningful impact in our own communities, and across the world.”

What a great way to commemorate such a special life moment, Meghan. We can only imagine what you will have planned for 50.

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