Angelina Jolie-Pitt addressed a room of delegates at the African Union summit in South Africa on Friday.
The award-winning actress, who is also special envoy to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, was invited to the event and sat on a panel of foreign leaders to deliver a speech at the summit. Jolie-Pitt joined former British foreign minister William Hague, Senegalese activist Bineta Diop and Zainab Bangura – the U.N.’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict – on the panel at the event.
The actress spoke about the use of rape as a weapon of warfare and asked African representatives to support women’s rights and encourage global support to end violence against women around the world.
“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. 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.”
The Unbroken director went on to pay tribute to African victims for their “extraordinary resilience, dignity and strength in the face of trials that would break any of us.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.”
Jolie closed her speech by saying that the solution needs to be pioneered by women themselves, cementing her status as a champion of women’s rights and leadership.
The actress has made her humanitarian work a priority in recent years, often topping her film roles. She was appointed to her current position as special envoy in 2012, previously acting as one of the agency’s Goodwill Ambassadors. Jolie’s use of her fame and celebrity to encourage women’s rights across the global was looked at in our inspirational women feature.
See her inspiring speech at the summit below