'Your mind will define you': Angelina Jolie's message to her daughters

Angelina Jolie and daughters Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and Zahara Jolie-Pitt in New York last month.
Angelina Jolie and daughters Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and Zahara Jolie-Pitt in New York last month. Photo: Alamy

Angelina Jolie is a fierce champion of women's rights and now she has shared with the world what she tells her own girls to empower them.

In an ELLE Magazine article, the famous actress, director, and humanitarian spoke candidly with former US secretary of state John Kerry.

During the discussion she shared the advice she's given her three girls: "I tell my daughters, 'What sets you apart is what you are willing to do for others. Anyone can put on a dress and makeup. It's your mind that will define you. Find out who you are, what you think, and what you stand for. And fight for others to have those same freedoms. A life of service is worth living.'"

Elle Magazine
Elle Magazine 

Jolie, who separated from her actor-husband Brad Pitt in 2016, has six children – Maddox, 16, Zahara, 13, Pax, 14, Shiloh, 11, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 9.

Her commitment to the plight of refuges and the empowerment of women has long been close to her heart and she has completed nearly 60 field missions in her role as goodwill ambassador and special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Her decision to sit down with Kerry for the magazine article was to raise awareness of International Women's Day on March 8.

The high-powered pair's discussion was far reaching, covering topics from climate change to patriotism.

"It's only because we are a country based on people of different backgrounds and faiths coming together that I can have this family. My daughters have the freedoms they have because of being American. And we are at our best when we are fighting for others to have the same rights. Particularly other women," she said.

"I think of how hard women fought to get us to where we are today. Everything counts, from the way you hold yourself in daily life and educate yourself on your rights, to solidarity with other women around the world."

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Jolie also spoke about what prompted to her to get involved in the plight of women fighting sexual exploitation.

"I was quite anti-politics when I was young. I started working on human rights issues and meeting refugees and survivors mainly because I wanted to learn," she said.

"I also had this romantic idea that I would get my boots on and be a humanitarian. But at a certain point you realise that's not enough. You have to find the root of the problem. And so that brings you back to the law and politics.

"For instance, I kept meeting refugees who were survivors of systemic rape – rape used as a weapon. Yet there were virtually no convictions. It fired me up to start working with governments and lawmakers.

"You have to identify what will make that change. Find the people in politics you can work with, and hold them to their promises."

Jolie co-founded the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative in 2012 and last year was a visiting lecturer at the London School of Economics' Centre for Women, Peace and Security.