Angelina Jolie Calls for Gender Equality During Powerful Speech at United Nations
WENN/Andres Otero

Making an appearance at the United Nations in New York City, the 'Maleficent' star insists that people will 'remain stuck in a cycle of violence and conflict' if they put aside women's rights.

AceShowbiz - Angelina Jolie urged world leaders to stay focused on gender equality while keeping the peace in war zones during a stirring speech at the United Nations on Friday, March 29.

The 43-year-old actress, filmmaker and activist told delegates that politicians, leaders and war criminals who fail to acknowledge the rights of women should be punished, during her latest U.N. visit in New York City.

"There can be no peace and stability in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world that involves trading away the rights of women," she said in her passionate speech.

"Worse, still, we see impunity for crimes committed against women and girls in conflict... Too often, whether or not we confront these human rights violations depends not on the law, universal standards, but on how much our governments think that their businesses or political interests in that country might be affected."

"As long as we can continue to put almost every other issue ahead of women's rights and participation, we will remain stuck in a cycle of violence and conflict. We will have learned nothing, and our institutions will count for less than they should."

Angelina has been involved with the United Nations for several years, and in 2012, she became the special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, which allows the Oscar winner to visit refugee camps around the world, and speak to the victims of war crimes and abuse.

Just last month, she visited refugees at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Teknaf, Bangladesh, where she staged a press briefing and urged officials in neighbouring Burma to end the violence in Rakhine state, which has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims out of their homes.

She also met with children and rape victims at the camp, which houses over a million refugees.

"It was deeply upsetting to meet the families who have only known persecution and statelessness their whole lives, who speak of being treated like cattle," she told reporters. "They have been denied their most basic human right: citizenship in their country of birth. And some still won’t even call the Rohingya by their rightful name."

Angelina met the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen the following day before launching a global appeal to support the refugees' needs.

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