Angelina Jolie gave a moving speech to the United Nations about the atrocities in Syria, and the Syrian ambassador’s reaction tells us everything we need to know about how superficially women are treated in international politics.
Jolie, who has acted as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 2001, was recently promoted to Special Envoy and has spent countless hours (and dollars) fighting for human rights in trouble spots all over the world, harshly criticized the U.N. Security Council for its lack of action in the four-year Syrian conflict. Nearly 4 million people have had to flee from Syria into neighboring countries.
Watch Angelina Jolie address the U.N. on Syria
“The problem is not lack of information. We know in excruciating detail what is happening in Aleppo, in Homs. The problem is lack of political will. We cannot look at Syria, and the evil that has arisen from the ashes of indecision, and think this is not the lowest point in the world’s inability to protect and defend the innocent,” said Jolie, who has visited the war-torn region 11 times since 2011, adding that the Security Council has been useless because its members are unable to agree how the conflict should be addressed.
“Those refugees cannot come to this council, so please, will you go to them?” she begged.
Jolie also revealed that more than 1,300 Syrians and other refugees have drowned on the Mediterranean in the last three weeks.
“It is sickening to see thousands of refugees drowning on the doorstep of the world’s wealthiest continent,” she said. “No one risks the lives of their children in this way except out of utter desperation.”
So what did Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari have to say about Jolie’s plea?
“She is beautiful.”
That’s it. About a woman who has been on 50 field missions to more than 30 countries over the last 13 years and is an esteemed expert on refugee issues, all he can bring himself to mention — at all — is her appearance. With that one sentence, he absolutely dismisses her years of hard work and expertise — not to mention the plight of the people in his own country.
And that pretty much sums up how much work we still have left to do for women to reach a fully level playing field in every aspect of society.