Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Honorary damehood for Angelina

Angelina Jolie has been handed a honorary damehood

Oscar-winning superstar Angelina Jolie has picked up yet another award - an honorary damehood for her campaigning work to which she dedicates her "lifetime".

Known by millions for her roles in Hollywood blockbusters including Tomb Raider and current release Maleficent, she has been a leading lady in cinema for more than a decade.

But Jolie, 39, is also a committed humanitarian and was described by US secretary of state John Kerry this week as a "fierce and fearless advocate" in this field.

He said her dedication to campaigning could overtake her successful film career as her lasting legacy.

And it is this passion for humanitarian work that is being recognised.

Jolie is receiving an honorary damehood (DCMG) for services to UK foreign policy and the campaign to end war zone sexual violence.

Reflecting on her award, Jolie said: "To receive an honour related to foreign policy means a great deal to me, as it is what I wish to dedicate my working life to.

"Working on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and with survivors of rape is an honour in itself.

"I know that succeeding in our goals will take a lifetime, and I am dedicated to it for all of mine."

Just this week she co-chaired, with Foreign Secretary William Hague, a global summit in London to End Sexual Violence in Conflict (ESVC).

They launched an international protocol which they hope will "shatter the culture of impunity".

In a speech at the summit, Mr Kerry said of Jolie: "We've all watched her play many remarkable roles but perhaps her most lasting legacy actually comes from a role she plays in real life, and that is the role of fierce and fearless advocate."

Jolie is co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) and she is also special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Since co-founding PSVI with Mr Hague in May 2012, Jolie has made an exceptional contribution to the development, promotion and impact of this major UK objective.

Building on her long-term humanitarian work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she has been at the forefront of the initiative to highlight and seek justice for the plight of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet - the victims of sexual violence in conflict.

A film Jolie made - In The Land Of Blood And Honey - was what brought her and Mr Hague together, leading to the ESVC summit at the ExCel exhibition centre in London's Docklands.

Jolie said she was "very moved" that the 2011 film, which is set in Bosnia during the conflict and explores the issue of women suffering from sexual violence, was responded to by Mr Hague.

The Conservative politician hailed Jolie as "an inspiration" this week.

The coming together of the "unlikely double act" is an example of how foreign policy should be conducted in future, he said.

The combination of Jolie's star power along with government can be "formidable", and he also said the Hollywood actress is "a pleasure to work with".

Speaking at the summit, Mr Hague said of Jolie: "My admiration for her work has grown even greater over the last two years.

"She has the power to speak to the whole world, to raise awareness, change attitudes.

"Governments like the one I am a member of hold in their hands levers of decision making and action.

"And this combination can be formidable.

"And is in many respects a strong example of the future of foreign policy and how it should be conducted.

"It's no longer the sole preserve of governments."

Mr Hague said Jolie brings "vast expertise" to the subject.

Jolie, whose partner is Fight Club heartthrob Brad Pitt, said at the summit she will continue to focus on the issue of ending sexual violence in conflict "through art" and "work on the field".

The star, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the drama Girl, Interrupted, announced in a New York Times article last year that she had a preventative double mastectomy.

She took the decision to have the procedure because she carries the ''faulty'' gene BRCA1, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Pitt described her decision as "absolutely heroic".

Jolie wrote in the article: ''I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive.

''So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition.

''Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Centre, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries.

''We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.''

The couple have six children together.

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