Angelina Jolie Pitt Bravely Addresses the Problem With Violence Against Women

June 16th 2015

Laura Donovan

Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie Pitt delivered an incredible speech about violence against women at the biannual African Union Summit in Johannesburg this week. The Independent reports that she spoke in front of a group of delegates including African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and British foreign minister William Hague.

"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 a lower priority," Jolie Pitt said. "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."

Jolie Pitt, who has had encounters with victims of sexual violence, commended their strength and said they deserve better protections and treatment. Her solution is to have women create policies that effectively fight violence against females.

"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 Pitt said. "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. 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."

As famous as she may be for her big blockbuster films, Jolie Pitt is also a well-known humanitarian and social activist. Nearly 15 years ago, she was horrified to see so many people suffering in Cambodia while filming "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" that she reached out to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) about ways to give back to poorer nations. In 2001, she became a Goodwill Ambassador, which enabled her to travel the world to assist and spread awareness of dispossessed, homeless, and less fortunate people.

Three years ago, she was appointed to Special Envoy to the High Commissioner, assuming a new focus on "major crises resulting in mass population displacements; undertaking advocacy and representing UNHCR and Guterres at the diplomatic level; and engaging with decision-makers on global displacement issues. Through this work, she will help contribute to the vital process of finding solutions for people displaced by conflict," according to UNHCR's website.

“When you work as a humanitarian, you are conscious that politics have to be considered," Jolie Pitt told Vanity Fair last year. "Because if you really want to make an extreme change, then you have a responsibility.”