Hollywood star Angelina Jolie appealed to government leaders to protect and empower women by acting against men who commit crimes against them.
Jolie, who is also a special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, was participating in a panel discussion at the Africa Union Summit in Johannesburg on Friday (12 June) on the theme of violence against women.
"I am pleading with you as leaders to live up to these commitments and go beyond them. You can change your societies for the better. You can make protecting and empowering women the priority that it has to be," said Jolie.
"You can resolve to arrest the men that commit these crimes, to collect the evidence and prosecute them. To allocate funds for survivors, to look at your laws and see what needs to be changed, to root out violence and discrimination against women in all forms.
"You can all make a decision right now in your own minds that you are going to commit to see this change become a reality".
Jolie said atrocities committed against women in conflict zones need to be addressed urgently.
"The near total impunity that exists worldwide for crimes against women in conflict zones in particular means that we are seeing more and more armed groups turn it into their weapon of choice," she said.
"Women and girls are bearing the brunt of extremists that revel in treating them barbarically. This is inextricably linked to our overall failure to prevent and end conflicts worldwide, which is causing human suffering on an unprecedented level."
Jolie attended the summit with former British foreign secretary William Hague, with whom she has joined forces to launch a centre targeting the abuse of women in war.