Actress-filmmaker Angelina Jolie, addressing the African Union summit, has called for more global support to end violence against women around the world.
Jolie, 40, who is the special envoy to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, sat on a panel of foreign leaders to deliver a speech at the biannual event, held here and Pretoria, South Africa, this year.
She lamented that crimes against women, both in conflict zones and “within societies at peace”, are given lesser attention than needed, reported People magazine.
“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 actress-director told the crowded ballroom.
“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, wearing a dark gray Michael Kors dress and beige heels, paid 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 said.
She concluded her speech by stating that the solution needs to be tailored to, and pioneered by, women themselves.
“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.
“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.”
She joined former British foreign minister William Hague, Senegalese activist Bineta Diop and Zainab Bangura, who is the UN’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, on the panel at the event.