Angelina Jolie Pitt arrives in Myanmar for four-day humanitarian service http://t.co/Fw4E3udqrs pic.twitter.com/ZVebpGmi8i— People magazine (@people) July 29, 2015
07/29/2015 AT 12:05 PM EDT
Angelina Jolie Pitt arrived in Myanmar on Wednesday, kicking off a four-day trip to learn more about the country's situation in her capacity as both the co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, and as a U.N. Refugee Agency Special Envoy.
"I am looking forward to meeting with many people including women's groups, civil society, displaced people and youth, to learn firsthand from them about their concerns and hopes for the future of their country," Jolie Pitt, 40, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
The actress' visit started with a welcome to parliament from Myanmar's House Speaker Shwe Mann, and will include meetings with local advocates and groups working to promote both human rights and women's rights, voter education, and election participation.
"With elections on the horizon in November, it is an important moment for people to exercise their democratic rights and help to address the fundamental issues critical to a peaceful future," Jolie Pitt said.
The Southeast Asian country, formerly known as Burma, holds general elections on Nov. 8.
Jolie Pitt's trip came after a personal invitation from Myanmar politician Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who serves as chairperson for the National League for Democracy in Burma. The actress first met Daw Suu at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in June 2014.
While it's the first time Jolie Pitt has visited Myanmar, she has previously met with Burmese refugees who were living in Thailand during several trips to the country.
Photo above, text and video below - dailymail
This morning she arrived in the country, also known as Myanmar, and met President Thein Sein and high-ranking members of the military government at the presidential palace.
Sources close to Mrs Jolie Pitt said she used the opportunity to talk about prominent issues in the country, including sexual violence, a lack of transparency and child soldiers.
But she will also be visiting members of the political opposition and will carry out field visits to displaced people in Myanmar’s conflict-affected states.
The source, who has been travelling with the UK special envoy party, said that Burma is one of 130 nations that signed up to an agreement to address sexual violence as part of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.
Yet it has taken no concrete steps to address the issue and lags behind countries such as Somalia, the Central African Republic and Kosovo, who admit to having problems but are making better progress.
The source says addressing sexual violence is high on her agenda, as she is dedicated to stamping out the use of 'sex as a weapon' in conflicts.
Between now and Saturday, when she leaves Burma, Mrs Jolie Pitt will also visit members of the political opposition, who have been severely oppressed over the years, and refugees.
She will meet local people who are working on human rights and inter-faith relations, and groups carrying out projects to promote women’s rights, voter education and participation ahead of the forthcoming elections.
But it is hoped that Mrs Jolie Pitt's unique status as a non-Government party will help 'shine a light' on the country's problems in a way other organisations can't.
The source said: 'She will be telling senior figures that they have similar interests, and if they truly want to become a democratic country, the onus is on them to address these problems.
'It is an amazing opportunity to get into Myanmar which not everyone gets so Angelina will be using it to meet as many different groups as she can and try and open a dialogue on these issues.'
Angelina Jolie Pitt has been following the situation in Myanmar closely since her first visit to Myanmar refugees in Thailand in 2002, and many subsequent visits to the region to focus on these issues.
UN Envoy Angelina Jolie shakes hands with the president of Myanmar, Thein Sein, at the presidential palace earlier today.