PRESS RELEASE: ICRW Releases a Feminist Foreign Policy Framework

Press Release Date

11 March 2020

Subtitle: Beijing+25 Generation Equality process to formalize expert task force and inform development of future foreign policies worldwide
Media Contact: Joe Shaffner, Senior Communications Manager, ICRW

WASHINGTON, DC, March 11, 2020 — Today, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), together with its partners, released a framework for feminist foreign policy, an approach to foreign policy geared specifically to advance gender equality and women’s human rights worldwide. This framework will be formalized during the Beijing+25 Generation Equality Forum process, and a collective of feminist thinkers, advocates and government officials will work together to lay out a roadmap for other countries that choose to create their own feminist foreign policies.

This framework was developed following more than a year of research and global consultations with over 100 organizations in more than 40 countries around the world. It was further refined at a high-level convening in November 2019, which included representatives from the governments of Mexico, Sweden, Canada and France, as well as a number of foundations, development organizations and advocacy groups. The framework arose out of a need for a standard global definition as to what feminist foreign policy is, as well as a policy-level tool that can guide governments and advocates alike seeking to advance such an approach.

“Sweden was the first country to launch a feminist foreign policy,” said Sweden’s Ambassador for Gender Equality Ann Bernes, Coordinator of Feminist Foreign Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, “which means that we have seen the importance of developing concrete tools to facilitate and underpin the work. That is why, for example, we have introduced a working method built on “three R’s” (rights, representation, resources), produced an accessible handbook and built a follow-up system around a yearly action plan. And that is why we warmly welcome ICRW’s initiative to develop a framework. The more tools available, the greater the chance of more actors pursuing a feminist foreign policy and contributing to a truly gender equal world.”

“In 2017, Canada followed Sweden with its Feminist International Assistance Policy and feminist foreign policy,” says Elissa Golberg, Assistant Deputy Minister for Strategic Policy at Global Affairs Canada, “making respect for human rights, gender equality, women’s empowerment, and inclusion a cornerstone of its domestic and foreign policies. Canada recognizes that when all people, regardless of their gender, can fully benefit from and participate in economic, political, social, and cultural life, we build safer, more prosperous, and more sustainable communities and countries.”

In January of 2020, Mexico launched its own policy. France, Spain and Luxembourg have similarly announced such policies. The framework developed by ICRW 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 5 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.

”The International Center for Research on Women,” said Lyric Thompson, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at ICRW, “has long been inspired by and optimistic about what feminist foreign policy could do to advance common global goals of peace, planet and gender equality, but to date no common definition or approach existed that could help countries and activists answer the question ‘What, exactly, is feminist foreign policy?’ After an exhaustive global review, today we are proud to stand with our sisters and allies around the world and be able to answer that question.”

“As member of the  feminist movement from Latin America and the Caribbean, said Mabel Bianco, President of the Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer, or FEIM (Foundation for Studies and Research on Women), “I consider FFP (feminist foreign policy) as a great advancement towards reaching Gender Equality at national, regional and global levels. So we advocate our governments to follow the path of Mexico and define FFP as a contribution to Beijing+25 commitments.”

According to Megan O’Donnell, Associate Director for Gender Equality at the Center for Global Development, “With the launch of this framework, we are increasingly moving feminist foreign policy from a once-abstract ideal to a defined set of principles and metrics to be implemented by many. I hope it allows more feminist researchers, advocates and governments to come together around a shared and increasingly concrete vision, to make feminist policy – foreign and domestic – a widespread reality.”

Indeed, this seems to be happening already. “Mexico sees this framework as a useful document for all those national governments that want to pursue a feminist foreign policy (FFP), said Dr. Christopher Ballinas Valdés, Director General for Human Rights and Democracy at Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Relations. “In the case of Mexico, taking part in the workshop that led to this document also proved strategic in giving the final shape to Mexico’s FFP – using every single branch of it – resulting in a very comprehensive FFP and the first in the Global South.”

Looking ahead, Delphine O, Ambassador and Secretary General of the Generation Equality Forum 2020, says “French President Emmanuel Macron has made gender equality a top national and international priority of his five-year term. Accordingly, France will host UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum in 2020 together with Mexico, demonstrating how feminist diplomacy is driving our foreign policy agenda as well as internal practices.”

The forum is a global celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which focused on enshrining women’s rights as human rights in international law. Together with  United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace, and Security, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, these were major policy initiatives in their time that set the stage for numerous national and global level policy precedents in the decades following their launch.

Going forward, the framework is to build on these milestones, a tool to help countries develop the next generation of political commitments that will push a progressive agenda aimed toward peace, environmental integrity and gender equality on the world stage.

On that note, Director of WEDO Bridget Burns says, “We see this as a critical first step towards engaging in a dynamic collective envisioning of bolder, transformative and truly feminist policy-making. Feminists have always been at the front lines of system change. Together, we not only fight for a seat at the table; where needed, we flip the table over and create something anew.”


Mission Statement:

Anchored in the principle of human dignity, ICRW advances gender equity, inclusion and shared prosperity. With offices in Washington, DC; New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; and Uganda, ICRW works with non-profit, government and private sector partners to conduct research, develop and guide strategy and build capacity to promote evidence-based policies, programs and practices.