Less than a month after she was named a UN Goodwill Ambassador tasked with advocating for women and girls forced into marriage and pregnancy, Ashley Judd is rolling up her sleeves and getting to work.
The 47-year-old actress has spent the past week meeting with refugees from the crisis in Syria and talking to leaders like Alice Wells, the United States Ambassador to Jordan, about forced marriage and other issues plaguing women and girls who have fled the war.
Over the weekend, the longtime political activist headed to a Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, where she was seen hugging women and holding babies and children in her arms as she strove to learn more about their plight, according to the Daily Mail.
"#Syrian #RefugeeCrisis #Youth astound me at every turn. Their #energy and #love kills me!," she tweeted on April 11, sharing a photo of herself holding a piece of artwork.
In another photo, Ashley linked arms with a group of women, captioning the pic, "#ChildBrides #RefugeeCrisis @GirlsNotBrides @UNFPA #protect &prepare them to be healthy, return home, #lead," in reference to the increasing trend of young refugee girls being married off as early as age 11 amid Syrian conflict.
Groups like the the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that appointed Ashley have been supporting centers run by Jordanian organizations like the Institute for Family Health, which the actress visited on April 5, according to her Twitter account.
A vocal supporter of global youth issues for many years, Ashley was criticized back in 2006 after she told the Sunday Mail she found it "unconscionable to breed with the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries."
She stood by the statement in her 2011 memoir, "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," writing, "I have chosen not to have children because I believe the children who are already here are really mine, too," (via New York Magazine).
She continued: "I do not need to go making 'my own' babies when there are so many orphaned or abandoned children who need love, attention, time, and care. I have felt this way since I was at least eighteen and I had an argument about it with a childhood friend … I figured it was selfish for us to pour our resources into making our 'own' babies when those very resources and energy could not only help children already here, but through advocacy and service transform the world into a place where no child ever needs to be born into poverty and abuse again. My belief has not changed. It is a big part of who I am."
As the Mail points out, Ashley's work with Syrian refugees comes on the heels of her UN Goodwill Ambassador colleague Angelina Jolie's years-long advocacy efforts for women, children and others who have fled the war-torn region.