Feminist foreign policy is the most recent policy innovation aiming for a transformative and rights-based approach across all auspices of a nation’s foreign policy. Following formal announcements of feminist foreign policies in a number of countries, starting with the launch of Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy in 2014, followed by a Canadian Feminist Foreign Assistance Policy in 2017, announcements by France and Luxembourg in 2019 and, most recently, the launch of a Mexican Feminist Foreign Policy in January 2020, the time has come to consider what approach the United States could take.
In August 2019, a group of U.S. foreign policy experts and advocates for global gender equality came together over the course of three days to sketch out an initial draft of a U.S. feminist foreign policy. This discussion benefited from a research review of other countries’ feminist foreign policies, as well as insights gathered through a series of global consultations with more than 100 feminist activists from over 40 countries as to what a global template or gold standard for feminist foreign policy should entail. Through months of extensive consultation, the group gathered new insights on topics that had been omitted or underdeveloped at the time of drafting: humanitarian assistance, immigration policy, nuclear policy and points of intersection between feminist agendas at home and abroad.
In this 25th anniversary year of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and its resulting Declaration and Platform for Action, this paper reflects the final product of that consultative process: a vision towards the highest standard of U.S. foreign policy that promotes overarching goals of gender equality, human rights, peace and environmental integrity, while prioritizing the articulation of concrete recommendations. It includes a proposed definition, key principles and policy recommendations that provide a visionary approach for a fundamentally different way of conducting foreign policy in a manner that places people and planet above profit and individual interest.