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Angelina Jolie’s Powerful Message to Afghan Women: “I Have Faith in Your Resilience”

Angelina Jolie in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2011. Photo: Getty

A year after the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban‘s subsequent takeover, Angelina Jolie has penned a letter of support to the country’s women. The Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian recently wrote an op-ed for Time magazine, in which she highlighted the issues facing Afghan girls and women, and urged the world to not “back away from Afghanistan.”

“One year ago, Afghan women worked as doctors, teachers, artists, police officers, journalists, judges, lawyers, and elected politicians. Afghan children braved repeated suicide attacks on their schools,” she wrote. “The picture for rural women was very different, particularly in areas still controlled by the Taliban, but the overall sense of progress was unmistakable. All of this has been overturned with unimaginable speed.”

Calling the situation a “betrayal” to the people from their “leaders and the international community”, Jolie went on to address how Afghan women are being treated. “Women are again being beaten in the streets or taken from their homes at night and tortured, and the country’s jails are filling up with female political prisoners. There are reports of girls being kidnapped into forced marriage with Taliban leaders,” said the 47-year-old. She added, “As a woman and mother, it torments me to even imagine what it must be like for Afghan families—especially those who lived through the Taliban era of the 1990s—to feel so powerless.”

Jolie also encouraged the spirit of Afghan women, calling them “an incredible resource for the country and its place in the world”. “The greatest resistance to the reversal of women’s rights in Afghanistan has not come from foreign powers, but from Afghan women themselves, who have taken to the streets,” she wrote. “The economy—and society as a whole—will not function without their full participation. Peace built on the oppression of women is no peace at all, but a society constantly at war with itself.” Jolie also wrote, “It’s absurd, in the 21st century, for there to be any debate about how much education it is ‘appropriate’ for a woman to have, or for that to reveal anything other than fear of the power of a free-thinking, independent woman.”

After directing her words to Taliban leaders to “understand what is lost by denying Afghan women the space to exist freely,” and to America and its allies to realize that “the worst possible step would be to back away from Afghanistan,” Jolie spoke to her “Afghan friends.” She wrote, “I have faith in you and your resilience and your strength. I dream of visiting with my daughters, making friends, traveling around your beautiful country, and seeing you free to determine your own future.” She ended her letter with a message of hope: “I’m sure that this isn’t the final chapter. The dream of a pluralistic, open Afghanistan built on the equal efforts and free voices of all its people may seem to be—and be in reality—a distant hope. But I know it’s possible. This does not end here.”

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