By Prachi Rao
Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallström’s, bold decision to block an arms deal with Saudi Arabia last month has garnered substantial attention. By ending their military cooperation with the Saudi dictatorship, Sweden has refused to turn a blind eye to the horrific impact of explosive weapons. Margot Wallström’s denouncement of Saudi authorities dismal human rights record, particularly the mediaeval sentence of 1,000 lashes of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, shows us what happens when we demand human rights rights and refuse to facilitate conflict. As Madeleine Rees stated, “we can choose a fundamental change in the way we do business and demand foreign policies that promote human rights and that refuse to facilitate conflict through the use of more and more violence and militarism.”
WILPF-Sweden’s concerted outreach and advocacy to not engage in far reaching military cooperation with a regime that systematically and brutally violates women’s rights has pushed for this feminist victory. WILPF, along with other disarmament activists, stands behind Wallström and demands that more states enact feminist foreign policy through concrete actions for disarmament, gender justice, and peace.