Angelina Jolie opened up about her daughters in an essay for TIME Magazine in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8. “I have spent the last two months in and out of surgeries with my eldest daughter, [Zahara], and days ago watched her younger sister go under the knife for a hip surgery,” Angelina wrote. “They know that I’m writing this, because I respect their privacy and we discussed it together and they encouraged me to write. They understand that going through medical challenges and fighting to survive and heal is something to be proud of.”
Zahara has two younger sisters, and Angelina did not specify which one had also been hospitalized. However, one day after the actress’ essay was published, her daughter, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, 13, was photographed walking on crutches. “I have watched my daughters care for one another,” Angelina continued. “My youngest daughter, [Vivienne], studied the nurses with her sister, and then assisted the next time. I saw how all my girls so easily stopped everything and put each other first, and felt the joy of being of service to those they love.”
Angelina praised her kids for facing the difficult situation with “resolute bravery.” She used the experience to reflect on what she has learned from her daughters, as well as other young girls who she’s met over the years. “The little girl is expected to take care of others,” she wrote. “The woman she grows up to be will be expected to give, and care for, and sacrifice. Girls are often conditioned to think that they are good only when they serve others, and selfish or wrong if they ever focus on their own needs and desires.”
She urged readers to “do much more to protect” little girls, “not only against the extreme ways girls’ rights are often violated, but also the more subtle injustices and attitudes that so often go unnoticed or unexcused.” She concluded her essay by revealing her wish that everyone starts “valuing” girls. “My message to girls is, fight on, little ladies,” she finished. “Your care for each other will be a large part of your way forward. Hold your nerve. Know your rights. And never let anyone tell you that you are not precious and special and, above all, equal.” The specifics of Zahara and (likely) Shiloh’s medical conditions were not revealed.