Charlize Theron is the newest U.N. Messenger of Peace, turning her Academy Award-winning fame to ending violence against women and girls around the globe.
Theron, 33, told reporters Monday after being inducted into her new role by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that she was taking on her new responsibilities “very humbly, with a very excited heart.”
The South African native vowed to help send a strong message that violence against women and girls was not acceptable in her upcoming travels to assist Ban’s campaign dubbed “UNite to End Violence against Women,” which was launched in February.
Worldwide, the U.N. says one of every five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime, and at least one of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or abused in some other way.
“This is something that has been very dear to me, and disturbing to me for a long time,” Theron said.
Theron, who at age 15 witnessed her mother shoot her alcoholic father to death while he was threatening the family, won an Oscar for Best Actress in 2004 for her portrayal of a domestic violence victim turned serial killer in “Monster.”
She also was nominated for an Oscar for playing a character in 2005’s “North Country,” which deals with domestic abuse and sexual harassment.
Already an activist, Theron began working with a Cape Town, South Africa rape crisis center in 1999 and later founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project to promote HIV/AIDS education for poor children and their families in South Africa.
Thinking too much about the big picture can be “very overwhelming,” she said, so Theron will try to avoid such frustration and measure her success in her new U.N. role on a person-by-person basis.
Theron joins nine other celebrities, including Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan and actors George Clooney and Michael Douglas, in becoming a “messenger” for the U.N. in waging peace and conducting its humanitarian work worldwide.