Feminist Foreign Policy: A Framework


Publication Year: 2020
Publication Author: Lyric Thompson, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women

As the world marks the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a growing number of feminists inside and outside of government are pioneering new approaches to policy that are tailored to address the issues of the day and advance new ground in the global quest for gender equality and the fulfillment of women’s human rights.

Today’s most pressing issues, and the solutions that are envisioned, are not radically different from those addressed at Beijing. The context, however, has changed. Despite measurable progress in girls’ education, maternal health and, increasingly, the repeal of discriminatory laws, there are new and dynamic challenges that threaten to reverse progress and rollback rights. 

At this moment of increased nationalism, populism and misogyny, it is time to call out backlash and call in new allies and champions for gender equality and women’s human rights, using all the tools at our disposal. Feminist foreign policy is one tool that shows promise for taking a much-needed, intersectional and often multilateral approach to women’s rights, simultaneously addressing urgent issues such as climate change, peace and security, inclusive growth, global health and poverty alleviation. 

This framework attempts to distill a definition and few core components of feminist foreign policy, drawing from the few examples that exist today, as well as the insights of feminist thinkers, advocates and experts inside and outside of government. This growing collective will be formalized in the course of the Beijing+25 Generation Equality process, in hopes of informing the fledgling field of feminist foreign policy and expanding the number of countries bold enough to embrace it.


The Framework can be found in Spanish here, and in French here.

And to read more about ICRW’s and our partners’ work on feminist foreign policy, click here.

This framework was written in consultation with the following individuals who participated in a convening to consider what a global gold standard for feminist foreign policy might entail:

Cristopher Ballinas Valdés, United Mexican States; Ann Bernes, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden; Mabel Bianco, Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer; Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, The Rockefeller Foundation; Bridget Burns, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO); Ellen Friedman, The Compton Foundation; Elissa Golberg, Global Affairs Canada; Erin Hohlfelder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Memory Kachambwa, The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET); Kristina Lunz, Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy; Geetanjali Misra, CREA; Delphine O, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France; Megan O’Donnell, Center for Global Development; Blen Sahilu, Women’s Rights Advocate and Policy Advisor; Theo Sowa, African Women’s Development Fund; Rachel Vogelstein, Council on Foreign Relations; and Beth Woroniuk, The Equality Fund.

Publication Rights:

Thompson, L. (2020). Feminist Foreign Policy: A Framework. Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women.


Sign up to endorse. Join the movement.

Endorsement by an organization or individual is an indication of solidarity within our movement and a recognition of the urgency of these policies. Endorsement does not necessarily mean that organizations or individuals have expertise or a position on or are actively working towards each priority or policy listed in the publication.

Our Supporters

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


Development Gateway

Equality Fund


Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion 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)

Kubernein Initiative

Mama Cash


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

Adviye Damla Ünlü
Istanbul University

Related Articles