A change of paradigm

Feminist foreign policy

A feminist approach to foreign policy – at home and abroad

With the formation of the new Federal Government, the concept of feminist foreign policy has shifted more firmly onto the German political agenda. In their coalition agreement, the governing parties agreed to shape foreign policy “in keeping with feminist foreign policy”. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accordingly announced during a speech in the Bundestag on 12 January 2022 that the Federal Foreign Office is to develop a “strategy for feminist foreign policy”. “After all, if half of the population are unable to participate as equals and do not have equal representation or pay, then democracies are not complete,” said Baerbock.

While a number of countries have already committed to feminist foreign policy, such as Sweden, Mexico, Canada and Spain, there is still no universal definition of what exactly that entails. Sweden’s approach is based on the “3 Rs”: taking into account and improving the rights, representation and resources of women and girls in foreign, security and development policy.

However, feminist foreign policy is more than just a conceptual tool that addresses the role of women. It is a comprehensive approach, nothing less than a long-overdue change of paradigm. Legal instruments for greater equality – such as gender mainstreaming – must be used in such a way that structural disadvantages, which are often the cause of security problems, are eliminated in the practice of foreign and security policy too. A feminist perspective, and thus a humanitarian one, emphasises security and human rights for all and relies on civilian approaches to tackling and preventing conflict.

Feminist foreign policy puts the focus on human security instead of military strength.

Numerous scientific studies show that greater participation in the economy, politics and society by women and other marginalised people can lead to a more stable and overall more peaceful world and that the level of equality is a key indicator of a state’s stability and peacefulness. Feminism does not, as it is frequently accused of doing, seek to reverse the power dynamics within society. Its true goal is equality and autonomy for all humans. That is, it simply aims to see basic rights and human rights safeguarded worldwide irrespective of gender.

Interview on feminist foreign policy

Kristina Lunz is an Oxford graduate, author, speaker and Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy. She believes that activism and diplomacy are a powerful combination. Her book Die Zukunft der Aussenpolitik ist feministisch (The Future of Foreign Policy Is Feminist) is released on 24 February. We spoke to her about the fundamentals and key principles of feminist foreign policy and how it differs from conventional diplomacy strategies.

Women make up half of society, so they should hold half of the power. What we also need is foreign policy that contributes to eliminating injustices.

New perspectives

The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy (CFFP) is a research and consulting organisation dedicated to fostering feminist foreign policy worldwide. It explores ways that feminism can respond to the multiple crises of our time and sees itself as a counterweight to the backlash by autocrats around the world. 

Feminism needs men, but men need feminism even more – because men too are negatively affected by our patriarchal society.

I would like to see foreign policy that is feminist not just on the world stage but also domestically and in the structures of the Federal Foreign Office.

More than Symbolism!

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