Angelina Jolie, a special envoy of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHRC, and Goodwill Ambassador, wrote an op-ed for The Guardian calling on NATO to protect women's rights.
Jolie co-wrote the piece with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for The Guardian, and the filmmaker calls for an end to violence against women, and the use of sexual violence as an act of war.
"All violence against women betrays the fundamental promise in the U.N. Charter of equal rights and dignity for women," she writes. "It is one of the prime reasons why women remain in a subordinate position in relation to men in most parts of the world."
She continues, explaining that rape is used as a strategy in war, "Despite being prohibited by international law, sexual violence continues to be employed as a tactic of war in numerous conflicts from Myanmar to Ukraine and Syria to Somalia. It includes mass rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, and rape as a form of torture, ethnic cleansing, and terrorism. It accounts in large part for why it is often more dangerous to be a woman in a war zone today than it is to be a soldier."
She highlighted a few ways NATO would be working to strengthen its contribution to women’s protection, writing that "[NATO’s] senior military leaders, have a vital role to play in being positive role models, and promoting the role of women in the military."
Jolie also called for raising the bar for the global military, writing, "[NATO] and Allied countries are involved every day in training partner militaries around the world. We want to explore ways in which existing training on the protection of human rights and civilians, including against sexual violence, can be strengthened."
This is not the first time Jolie has raised her voice for women in conflict zones, it has become a focus for her as a U.N. Envoy, “We all know that the credibility of U.N. peacekeeping has been sadly undermined by the actions of a few intolerable cases of women and children being sexually exploited by the very people in charge of protecting them,” she said in 2016, according to The Guardian.
Jolie raises very important points along the same lines here. If the people charged with protecting the front lines aren't aware of the impact of sexual violence, or are committing it themselves, the wounds to conflicted areas run deeper than just the surface.
Her passionate conclusion drives home how important this is. "It is humanity’s shame that violence against women, whether in peaceful societies or during times of war, has been universally regarded as a lesser crime. There is finally hope that we can change this. We owe it to ourselves – men and women alike – and to future generations."
Jolie has spent years doing advocacy and charity work with the U.N.. She represented the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as a Goodwill Ambassador from 2001-2012. According the UNHCR site, she carried out nearly 60 field missions in this role. She was appointed Special Envoy in 2012, an expanded role. Since then she's continued to represent UNHCR and the High Commissioner at the diplomatic level.