Nicole Kidman has a new role — working to advance women's rights around the globe as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N.

The Oscar-winning actress will work with the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, on critical gender concerns such as ending violence against women.

"I hope that I can act as a conduit, that I can be the person who tells some of these stories," Kidman told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "The way in which I was raised and the things I've seen in my life has led me toward this."

Kidman, 38, looked relaxed throughout the interview, wearing a fitted black pants suit and wearing a ring on her left ring finger. The actress, who is divorced from Tom Cruise, has been romantically linked to country singer Keith Urban.

When asked what led her to volunteer for what she says will be a lifetime commitment to women's causes, Kidman said her parents were a big influence during her childhood in Australia.

"My family, we sat around the dinner table, we had political conversations. My father always said, `You need to be involved. Don't be a voyeur, be a participator,"' Kidman said.

She first heard about the work of UNIFEM after her mother listened to a BBC report about the group's work in Cambodia and told her about it.

Additionally, her work on the movie "The Human Stain" — in which she played a woman exposed to abuse — led her to real-life brushes with the issue.

"I went to meet with a lot of women in shelters — abuse shelters — and the stories I heard there ... were so disturbing," Kidman said at an earlier news conference Thursday.

She said that experience led her to try to find a way to help such women.

Since the 1950s, U.N. agencies have enlisted the help of prominent personalities from the arts and sports worlds to highlight key issues, including Angelina Jolie, who has traveled widely as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency.

Kidman said she didn't know if she would be able to travel as much as Jolie. Having older children in school makes it more difficult, she said, but she hopes the actresses' celebrity status might work together to benefit their respective causes.

"Angelina is dealing with a certain issue, I'm dealing with different issues. I hope all of it comes together in some way," she told the AP.

The first countries Kidman plans to visit are Sudan, Congo, Liberia, Afghanistan and Cambodia.

UNIFEM's Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer said Kidman will help greatly with the group's cause.

"She's a very profound actress and artist and I was very, very touched by her commitment to make sure she used her gifts for women everywhere in the world," Heyzer said.

Heyzer noted that it was Kidman who contacted UNIFEM and that her decision to work with the group has already generated a lot of attention from women around the globe.

"I have to say that today many women celebrate this event and welcome you as a sister, a sister of commitment," Heyzer said. "I've been receiving messages from all parts of the world to say that this is a special day to them as well."

Kidman won an Oscar for her role in 2002's "The Hours."

Her screen credits include "The Interpreter," a 2005 thriller in which she played a U.N. interpreter caught up in a cloak-and-dagger assassination attempt.