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Defining Feminist Foreign Policy

Advocacy

Publication Author: Lyric Thompson and Rachel Clement

What is feminist foreign policy? What definition can capture its complexity, its nuances? And how do we ensure the focus is not just on women but on power relations and gender equality more broadly, using an explicitly rights-based and intersectional understanding of feminism?

In this brief, we take a closer look at the world’s few existing “feminist” (Sweden, Canada, France) approaches to foreign policy, and it’s clear that there is room for improvement as we seek to influence the second wave of emerging policies. Two ways to improve: (1) push countries to increase their commitments to gender equality as a principle and funded goal; and (2) adopt a more rigorous and independent practice for monitoring, evaluation, research and learning tied to policies’ intended outcomes.

As an intersectional movement, certainly one of the most readily apparent is the tendency of governments to use the word feminist when they mean “women and girls.” This reinforces the binary and undermines work to overcome white, ethnocentric and western-centric, cis feminism’s historical (and current) sins. Even when policies focus on gender equality, and not simply women’s empowerment, much of the literature critiquing existing feminist foreign policies points to a lack of attention to
intersectional forms of discrimination and marginalization such as race, ethnicity, disability, class, or refugee status.

In our consultations to date, the number-one term that has emerged as an essential ingredient to any definition of feminist foreign policy has been “intersectional.”

To read more about the existing approaches to feminist foreign policy, how we define it and our thoughts about what comes next, click on the image to the right or on the button below. Click here for a version in French.

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Publication Rights:

Thompson, L., and Clement, R. (2019). Defining Feminist Foreign Policy. Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women.

 

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