Angelina Jolie is putting a spotlight on violence against women around the world — saying it is “often more dangerous to be a woman in a warzone today than it is to be a soldier” — and joining forces with NATO to spearhead change.
In an op-ed co-written with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for The Guardian, the filmmaker outlines how the NATO alliance can be a leader in ending gender-based violence, especially as military tactics.
“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,” she says. “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 warzone today than it is to be a soldier.”
Jolie, 42, adds, “In our different roles we have seen how conflicts in which women’s bodies and rights are systematically abused last longer, cause deeper wounds and are much harder to resolve and overcome. Ending gender-based violence is therefore a vital issue of peace and security as well as of social justice.”
The actress says NATO must become a guardian of women’s rights, falling in line with their mission to be “a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression,” according to President Harry Truman.
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The Jolie-Stoltenberg plan involves NATO integrating women into positions of leadership within the organization, bolstering military training in human rights protection and continuing to implement standard operating practices.
They also ask that NATO gives greater recognition to the roles of gender advisers and female soldiers interacting with communities, and that they use data to identify patterns in conflict-related sexual violence.
“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,” Jolie writes. “There is finally hope that we can change this. We owe it to ourselves – men and women alike – and to future generations.”