When Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström declared a Feminist Foreign Policy, this was a pioneering move. Although it strengthened existing approaches in Sweden, rather than creating dramatic political change, it made women's human rights the centerpiece of action. Building on Swedish development policy, which has had a gender equality focus since 1996, the last four years of feminist foreign policy have demonstrated that feminist policy needs to go beyond women’s representation. A feminist perspective is also about challenging power structures, visualising what maintains them and, above all, the will to change.
Margot Wallström's leadership formulating and implementing feminist foreign policy has had not only national but international impact. As part of Sweden's membership in the UN Security Council, they spearheaded a broader conversation on conflict prevention and supported shift toward an increased number of civil society briefers on country-specific conversations. Although this has not addressed all challenges -- especially around selling weapons to dictatorships that violate women's and girls' human rights, or joining the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons -- this has been an important step.
As Sweden looks forward to its 2018 elections, it is important that the next government continue and build on and further strengthen this pioneering work. As part of a broader civil society coalition, WILPF Sweden has just launched a Declaration for Feminist Foreign Policy, which identifies how this should be taken forward. The coalition calls for the next government to take on feminist leadership to address a holistic agenda, including on sexual and reproductive health and rights, shrinking spaces, land and food rights, social protection, labor rights, business and human rights, arms exports and disarmament, WPS, migration and refugees, protection, climate, and water. Feminist foreign policy can be successful in women’s and girls lives, but it must be supported by strong and ongoing leadership. WILPF calls on the next government step up.
Read the Civil Society Declaration For Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy here>>