Feminist Foreign Policy: A Framework


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

Author: Lyric Thompson


"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 some areas, such as 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. And no country has achieved gender equality. The world faces an urgent climate crisis; persistent social, economic and political inequalities and consequential trust deficits with respect to globalization and the international institutions seen to support it; reversals of legislative protections of sexual and reproductive rights; attacks on women and LGBTQ+ human rights defenders; anemic progress on political inclusion of marginalized groups; and protracted political crises resulting in the largest forced displacement since WWII, among others. If we want to meet our human rights obligations, we cannot leave anyone behind, much less women and girls, in all their diversity.

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. As champions for gender justice from around the world prepare to honor the legacy of Beijing and launch the next generation of commitments to advance gender equality, 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. We are convinced that every country can embrace a feminist foreign policy, no matter if it is a low, middle or high-income one. At home and abroad, adopting a feminist approach could help to improve social development and reach social welfare and gender equality. Such an approach promotes inclusion, equality, peace and security, both at the international and national level.

But what is it, precisely? This framework attempts to distill a definition and a few core components of feminist foreign policy, drawing from the few examples that exist today2, 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" (Thomspon 2020, 1).

Topics: Feminist Foreign Policy, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Intersectionality, Peace and Security, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2020

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