Feminist Foreign Policy, or Feminist Diplomacy, is a concept in international relations that calls on states to mainstream gender equality and women’s rights through all components of their foreign policy, including peace and security, economic and trade diplomacy, human rights, international development, and climate and environmental policy. Feminist Diplomacy is rooted in evidence that women and girls around the world suffer from discrimination and violation of their rights, and it is based on the conviction that achieving equality is not a “women’s issue,” but rather benefits all people and nations. The full and equal participation of women in societies and the attainment of their rights are not only international obligations for UN member states and integral to completing the UN Sustainable Development Goals; they are also critical tools to achieving peace and security in the world. The well-being of women and the well-being of nations goes hand in hand.
As the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, most current government policies on foreign assistance, trade, diplomacy, and defense still do not adequately integrate a gender perspective into policy decisions. There is no single definition of Feminist Foreign Policy, nor is there an international convention or treaty that sets a series of obligations for states that are party to it. Yet among those countries that have adopted a Feminist Foreign Policy, there are three critical components they share: (1) making sure all women and girls enjoy their full and equal rights, (2) ensuring representation of women in all parts of society and the economy, and (3) supporting this policy with adequate human and financial resources.
Building on this diplomatic approach, Lyric Thompson and Rachel Clement offer the following academic definition: “Feminist Foreign Policy is the policy of a state that defines its interactions with other states and movements in a way that prioritizes gender equality and enshrines the human rights of women and other traditionally marginalized groups, allocates significant resources to the realization of this vision, and seeks, through its implementation, to disrupt patriarchal and masculine power structures through all of its levers of influence (aid, trade, defense, and diplomacy), informed by the voices of feminist activists and movements.”
 Lyric Thompson and Rachel Clement, Defining Feminist Foreign Policy (International Center for Research on Women, 2019): 7.
Halima Diallo (Senegal) is the Gender Equality Officer of the NGO Right To Play. Ms. Diallo has worked with several organizations and UN entities – among them the UN Population Fund, UN Women, and the World Food Programme – promoting equal participation in decision-making processes, fighting discrimination and gender-based violence, and ensuring equal opportunities in leadership. In 2019, Ms. Diallo was awarded the ‘Women of Nder’ distinction, which honors women who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their communities.
Isabelle Hudon (Canada) is the President and CEO of BDC, the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs. Ms. Hudon brings a deep business background and a clear vision for an inclusive economy to support growth for Canadian entrepreneurs. She is a champion of diversity, gender equality, and the green economy, leading BDC’s 2,500-person team. From 2017 to 2021, Ms. Hudon was Ambassador of Canada to France and Monaco.
Delphine O (France) is Ambassador-at-Large and Secretary General of the Generation Equality Forum (Beijing+25). In 2021, she organized the largest international summit for women’s rights since 1995, convened by UN Women and co-chaired by France and Mexico. Ms. O was previously a Member of Parliament in the French National Assembly. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Strategic Orientation Board of the German Marshall Fund France, and IRIS (Institut des Relations Internationales et Stratégiques).
Melanne Verveer (USA) is the Executive Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace & Security. She previously served as the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, a position to which she was nominated by President Obama in 2009. In that capacity, she worked closely with Secretary Hillary Clinton to integrate women’s participation and rights into U.S. foreign policy. Ms. Verveer has served as the Special Representative on Gender Issues for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and is the co-author of Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose.
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