Happy Birthday, Angelina! Here are all the ways you’ve changed women’s lives

Happy birthday, Angelina Jolie Pitt! Part of us can’t believe you’re turning 40, because you look so dang good. But another part of us can’t believe you’re only 40, because you’ve done so much for the world in such a short time. Not a bad problem to have.

Angie is more than just a celebrity. She’s an advocate. A trailblazer. A humanitarian. While she’s off celebrating her birthday with her beautiful family, saving the world, or shooting her next movie, we’re taking a minute to celebrate her awesomeness. Here are all the amazing ways Angelina Jolie has made a huge difference for women around the world. We thank her, applaud her, and celebrate her.

She’s a huge advocate for women’s (and human) rights.

Where do we begin? Angelina started a campaign to stop sexual violence in the military. She formed the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative in the UK. She co-chaired the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, and was endorsed by 151 countries. This February, she helped open the Centre on Women, Peace and Security. The list goes on — and hopefully will continue to go on.

She’s a big supporter of adopting on your own.

When the Jolie-Pitt clan is coming, you can’t miss them: Brad and Angie have six kids, three of whom were adopted from other countries. “When I was growing up I wanted to adopt, because I was aware there were kids that didn’t have parents,” she told People magazine. “It’s not a humanitarian thing, because I don’t see it as a sacrifice. It’s a gift. We’re all lucky to have each other.” She’s just being modest — she adopted her first two children on her own, as a single mom. Adoption rumors swirled a few months ago, but it looks like the Jolie-Pitts will remain a tight-knit family of eight — for now.

In an effort to help others, she speaks openly about the health issues she’s faced.

In 2013, Angelina penned an op-ed in the New York Times called “My Medical Choice” about her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. Because of her family history (she lost her mother, grandmother, and aunt to cancer), she faced an 87% risk of breast cancer, and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. Earlier this year, she followed up with “Diary of a Surgery,” detailing her next preventative surgery: Removing her ovaries and fallopian tubes. Her bravery and willingness to write about her personal experiences informed millions of other at-risk women of their options, and passed on crucial information that has undoubtedly helped save lives.

She works closely with the UN to resolve displacement issues.

In 2012, Angie was appointed as Special Envoy for Refugee Issues. She is an advocate for UNHCR at the diplomatic level, focusing on displacement issues and working with decision makers to resolve them. Previously, she served as a Goodwill Ambassador, where she went on over 40 field visits around the world, familiarizing herself with forced displacement and becoming a strong advocate for the cause.

She’s one of Hollywood’s top female role models.

When it comes to the silver screen, Angie does it all — acts, produces, directs, even writes. She famously directed and produced last year’s Unbroken, based on the life of Olympian Louis Zamperini. It was her second time directing, and she’s made it clear that she’s making the transformation from actor to director. “I’m shy to call myself a director still. When someone says, ‘What do you do for a living?’ I don’t know if I’ve earned that,” she says. “I do love directing. I much prefer it to acting.” Again, she’s so modest.

What can we say? The woman is a true heroine and role model. We thank her for leading by example, and can’t wait to see what she does with her next 40 years. Happy birthday, Angelina! Thank you for all that you do.

[Images , via]

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