A new Global Partner Network was launched today, bringing together governments and leading civil society groups to advance the nascent field of “feminist foreign policy”—a policy approach tailored to address the issues of the day and advance new ground in the global quest for gender equality. The commitment was made as part of formal programming for the Generation Equality Forum, a global celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (which created a blueprint for advancing women’s rights.)
“We’re proud to promote a policy innovation that advances the objectives of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as a number of other issues essential to achieving gender,” said Lyric Thompson, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at ICRW. “Together we have delivered a vision toward the highest standard of foreign policy that, if adopted and implemented, would fundamentally alter the ways countries conduct themselves at home and abroad.”
By joining the Global Partner Network, partners will encourage learning and adoption of a shared framework for a feminist foreign policy; serve as resources to be called upon for action and advice; and determine a plan of action for at least the next year. Over time, the Global Partner Network will grow, discuss best practices for implementation, and propose accountability mechanisms.
At the official Generation Equality Forum side event, Libya became the latest and first African nation to embrace feminist foreign policy, joining Sweden, Canada, France, Mexico, Luxembourg and Spain in adopting the concept.
“Our launching a feminist foreign policy would not only help Libya in achieving its stabilization, but would also stabilize our region,” said Najla Mangoush, the first female Foreign Minister of Libya, during the event.
The new partner network builds on a three-year consultative process led by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) to develop a global definition of and guide for feminist foreign policy. The global framework, released in March 2020, captures learnings from research and consultations with over 200 organizations in more than 40 countries around the world.
“Sweden was the first country to launch a feminist foreign policy in 2014, and we have seen the importance of developing concrete tools to facilitate and underpin this work,” said Sweden’s Ambassador for Gender Equality Ann Bernes, who also spoke at the event. “This systematic way of working has produced results and change. It doesn’t have to take years and years; it can go very quickly actually.”
“Mexico has a historical commitment to gender equality and women and girls’ rights,” said Dr. Christopher Ballinas Valdes, Director General for Human Rights and Democracy with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. “The starting point was the organization of the First World Conference on Women in Mexico City in 1975. Now, with the adoption of a Feminist Foreign Policy, Mexico aims to turn into a relevant international player promoting gender equality and the human rights of women and girls in multilateral fora.”
The framework lays out five key ingredients to a feminist foreign policy that include (1) purpose, (2) definition, (3) reach, (4) intended outcomes and benchmarks, and (5) plans to operationalize. It also outlines particular measures of success, broken down by core components of feminist foreign policy referred to as the “five Rs:” (1) rights, (2) resources, (3) representation, (4) research and reporting and (5) reach. The ultimate goal of these recommendations is to ensure the necessary level of accountability, allocated resources, strategic planning, and inclusive design and implementation.
As the field advances, partners reflected on the importance of intersectionality, concrete metrics to track progress, and funding for women’s organizations and feminist movements.
“So many default actions by governments, civil society and other actors are colonial in nature, which can result in multiple forms of discrimination and exclusion—unintentional and intentional. This is one reason why action based on analyses of intersectional discriminations is so central for feminist movements,” said Theo Sowa, Co-Chair of the Equality Fund. “And that’s why its crucial to make sure that increased and more flexible funding goes to feminist movements and organisations everywhere: if we don’t deliver the resources to fund the changes envisioned in feminist foreign policies, then we just end up with rhetoric. I’d like to think that feminist foreign policy is a lot more than rhetoric.”
Groups formally endorsing the Generation Equality Forum commitment:
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN, INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (IWDA), CREA, GLOBAL FUND FOR WOMEN, WOMEN’S ACTION FOR NEW DIRECTIONS, WOMEN’S ENVIRONMENT & DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (WEDO), FEMNET, FUNDACIÓN PARA ESTUDIO E INVESTIGACIÓN DE LA MUJER, WOMEN’S REFUGEE COMMISSION, KARAMA, KUBERNEIN INITIATIVE, GLOBAL WOMAN P.E.A.C.E. FOUNDATION, EQUALITY FUND
Groups that have endorsed the global framework for feminist foreign policy include:
AFRICAN WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT FUND, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON COLLEGE OF LAW, ASSOCIATION FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN DEVELOPMENT, CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION, CARE CANADA, CARE FRANCE, CENTER FOR GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT, CENTER FOR HEALTH AND GENDER EQUITY (CHANGE), COMPTON FOUNDATION, CREA, DEVELOPMENT GATEWAY, EQUALITY FUND, EQUIPOP, FUNDACIÓN PARA ESTUDIO E INVESTIGACIÓN DE LA MUJER, GIRLS NOT BRIDES, GLOBAL FUND FOR WOMEN, GLOBAL WOMEN P.E.A.C.E. FOUNDATION, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN, INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (IWDA), KARAMA, KUBERNEIN INITIATIVE, MAMA CASH, OXFAM, THE AFRICAN WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATION NETWORK (FEMNET), THE CENTRE FOR FEMINIST FOREIGN POLICY, THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION, WOMANKIND WORLDWIDE, WOMEN’S ACTION FOR NEW DIRECTIONS, WOMEN’S ENVIRONMENT & DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (WEDO), WOMEN’S REFUGEE COMMISSION