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Fri. June 05, 2020
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International Affairs Forum

Around the World, Across the Political Spectrum

The Importance of Implementing a Feminist Foreign Policy

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By Fulin Wang

Sweden was the world's first country to implement a feminist foreign policy in October 2014, which has had successful outcomes. Taking this measure meant that a gender viewpoint would regularly be implemented into their foreign policy agenda. The implementation of this policy has had positive results, ranging from having an established network of women mediators active around the world, campaigning for girls and women's rights, and being able to advocate issues concerning women, peace, and security to the UN Security Council. Many countries have viewed the success of this foreign policy, and as of right now, Canada and Mexico have followed Sweden's footsteps in incorporating this policy. This is a path that many countries should also take, given the research that has shown how the implementation of a feminist foreign policy is generally beneficial to society.

Sweden's feminist foreign policy is a revolutionary agenda aimed at reforming structures and making women and girls more prominent as actors. Discrimination and gender disparity are counteracted and looked down upon throughout all levels and aspects of the agenda. This approach is based on an intersectionality perspective, which clarifies the fact that people have different living circumstances, backgrounds, and needs.[1] The purpose of an intersectionality perspective is to understand how overlapping categories of identity impact individuals and organizations and to be able to take these relationships into account while trying to achieve social and political equality.

Often, Sweden's feminist foreign policy is met with opposition that expresses itself through suppression tactics and mockery. However, research has shown that women’s direct participation in peace negotiations increases the sustainability and quality of peace.[2] Also, the global economy would grow by 26 percent if women and men were equal in working life. If women were able to farm on the same terms as men, 100 million people would avoid going hungry.[3] In addition, research has shown that societies with gender equality experience better health, a boost in economic growth, and are more peaceful. These are only some of the many arguments that showcase why an increase in gender equality would be favorable to society overall.

In 2020, Mexico became the first global south country and only the third country worldwide to launch an explicitly feminist policy. The enactment of this new policy structure has already molded Mexico’s behavior internally and on the world stage. For example, in April, Mexico took a clear leadership position at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25), where the government promoted gender equality as a non-negotiable component of any agreement on climate change.[4] During this conference, several countries worked together to exclude activists from the negotiations and even locked several such activists and indigenous women out in the cold. However, it is vital to note that Mexican negotiators ensured that feminist climate activists had a seat at the table and ultimately established a roadmap for the Gender Action Plan.

Overall, countries should look at Sweden and Mexico and the success they have had by implementing a feminist foreign policy. This policy is based on the premise that gender equality is not just a women’s issue since, in the end, it benefits everyone. Even though there has been ongoing criticism of this policy, research has proven that this pathway can have various benefits on society by promoting economic growth, better health, and security. Moreover, a gender-equal society also leads to peace, and it’s been proven that when women participate in peace processes, the likelihood of lasting peace increases. This is a crucial point since what the majority of people want nowadays is long-lasting peace among everyone.

Fulin Wang is a first year student at George Washington University.  She is an international student from China and her potential major is Business Analytics.

 

Bibliography

Krause, J. (2018, August 10). Women's Participation in Peace Negotiations and the Durability of Peace. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03050629.2018.149238

 Sweden’s feminist foreign policy handbook. (2019). Government Offices of Sweden Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.government.se/4ae557/contentassets/fc115607a4ad4bca913cd8d11c2339dc/handbook---swedens-feminist-foreign-policy.pdf

Thompson, L. (2020, January 14). Mexican Diplomacy Has Gone Feminist. Retrieved from https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/14/mexican-diplomacy-feminist-foreign-policy/


[1] Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy Handbook. (2019). Government Offices of Sweden Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pg 14.

[2] Krause, J. (2018, August 10). Women's Participation in Peace Negotiations and the Durability of Peace.

[3]Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy Handbook. (2019). Government Offices of Sweden Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pg 103.

[4] Thompson, L. (2020, January 14). Mexican Diplomacy Has Gone Feminist.

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