Angelina Jolie’s Powerful Speech On The Global Epidemic Of Violence Against Women

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Award-winning actress, director and humanitarian Angelina Jolie is well known for her work on-screen as well as off. And we’re talking way beyond Hollywood. She is a passionate advocate for the rights of women and girls who are suffering from the effects of war, conflict and disaster in countries where equal rights is not so much a thing.

In 2014 she co-chaired the world’s first summit dedicated to tackling rape and sexual assault in conflict zones with now former British Foreign Secretary William Hague who is currently the leader of the house of commons.

In early 2015 she traveled to Jordan and Syria and reported on the plight of the millions of displaced Syrian refugees who have had to flee their own country due to the horrific war. She has spoken boldly on the need for more government intervention and that we continue to ignore the plight of the poor at our peril.

At the 25th bi-annual African Union Summit held in South Africa from June 7-15th, she gave a powerful speech urging African leaders and representatives do fight for the rights of women and girls who are continually being used as a weapon of war.

“There is a global epidemic of violence against women – both within conflict zones and within societies at peace – and it is still treated as a lesser crime and lower priority. The near-total impunity that exists worldwide for crimes against women, in conflict zones in particular, means that we are seeing more and more armed groups turn it into their weapon of choice,” she said.

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“Women and girls are bearing the brunt of extremists that revel in treating them barbarically. This is inextricably linked to our overall failure to prevent and end conflicts worldwide, which is causing human suffering on an unprecedented level.”

She has met with victims and survivors from all over the world and heard many horrific and tragic stories that have given her more cause to speak out.

“They are some of the most formidable and impressive people I have ever met and they deserve better than to be left alone to suffer,” she said while praising their resilience and strength in the face of trials that would easily get the better of the more privileged among us.

Part of the solution, she says, will start when women are part of the conversation with government leaders and policy-makers in order for them to understand the complexities and impact of sexual violence on a woman’s life.

“We need policies for long-term security that are designed by women, focused on women, executed by women – not at the expense of men, or instead of men, but alongside and with men,” she said before giving the audience a reason why this is not just a “women’s issue”, but something that affects families, communities and entire economies.

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“There is no greater pillar of stability than a strong, free and educated woman, and there is no more inspiring role model than a man who respects and cherishes women and champions their leadership.”

William Hague told the Telegraph that he fully intends to take advantage of the unique partnership he has with the Hollywood actress in order to fight for women and girls everywhere.

“It’s an unusual alliance absolutely but it does seem to work in drawing attention to the issue and drawing support: the diplomacy of a major country like the UK and the global recognition and reach of someone like Angelina Jolie-Pitt. Because we have now worked on it for three years, we are sufficiently well-known around the world for doing it and we get a hearing,” he said before adding why this is not their fight alone.

“We are starting to make progress and there are a number of countries in Africa changing laws and training security forces to prevent it from happening. This is a key responsibility for men as well as women. There are a lot of male foreign ministers around that table and these crimes are committed by men and we men alongside leading women have to make sure they are challenged,” he concluded.

The African Union chairwoman is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (who Angelina was joined by on stage during her speech) and she is the first female chairperson of the organization. It was her decision to make female empowerment the focus of this African Union Summit.

Here some of the highlights of her speech below:


 

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