Feminist Foreign Policy: Comparing France, Sweden and the United States

Why is it important to apply a gender equality perspective throughout foreign policy agenda? A few years after Sweden adopted a feminist foreign policy in 2014, several countries including France have followed its lead, raising pressure on the United States to do the same. On 10 March 2021, PSIA invited three leading experts to discuss the topic and compare the French, Swedish and American perspectives, in a conference chaired by former Dean Enrico Letta.

Margot Wallström, who initiated this approach when she was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, opened the discussion with a reflection: the Covid-19 pandemic “has displayed brutally the lack of equality and discrimination in the world and at home”. 

She analysed the current context through a gender lens, explaining how women have been affected differently by the pandemic and its consequences, and arguing that feminist foreign policy is essential in order to “build back better”: “feminist foreign policy makes life better for everyone”.

Melanne Verveer elaborated on this thought, adding that women are disproportionately affected by all issues from climate change to conflicts, but can also be involved as agents of change. The first US Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues (2009-2013), she notably worked with Hillary Clinton at the State Department to incorporate a gender lens into US foreign policy decisions. 

“We know the fate of women and the fate of nations goes hand in hand,” she stated: “You will never have a durable peace without the participation of women and their experiences being brought to the table.”

Delphine O, Ambassador-at-large and Secretary General for the Gender Equality Forum - the largest international summit for women’s rights since 1995 - insisted on the difference between countries that have put gender equality at the center of their foreign policy, and those who adopted a proudly and outspoken feminist foreign policy. “It is a radical move for a government to use the ‘F-word’ - Feminist”, she said, adding that such political decisions give “a strong impulse to all feminist and women’s movements around the world”. 

The Gender Equality Forum, which will be held in June in Paris and co-chaired by France and Mexico, aims to establish a roadmap of concrete gender equality goals to be achieved in the next five years, explained Delphine O: “In every instance, any time we are pushing for any issue, we have to integrate the gender angle”.

To learn more about feminist foreign policy and the take-aways from the conference, watch the replay below:

The Sciences Po Editorial Team

CIVICA Celebrates Two Years of Positive Impact in European Higher Education

CIVICA Celebrates Two Years of Positive Impact in European Higher Education

This October, CIVICA–The European University of Social Sciences–celebrates two years since the start of activities, following its selection among the pilot European Universities by the European Commission. Since then, the alliance of eight social science universities, including Sciences Po, has taken major steps towards the strategic goals of the current three-year pilot phase and beyond.

More
Souleymane Bachir Diagne:

Souleymane Bachir Diagne: "No Civilisation is an Island"

The lecture hall was full and the subject suited the occasion perfectly: universality and plurality. Invited on 2 September 2021 to mark the opening of the academic year for undergraduate students at Sciences Po, Senegalese philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne treated his newly reunited audience to a vivid and thought-provoking lecture. His theme was the highly topical issue of the tension between withdrawal into oneself and aspiration to the universal. Diagne champions a “lateral universal” as an urgent imperative of our time.

More
Back to School 2021: Welcome to our new Undergraduate College students!

Back to School 2021: Welcome to our new Undergraduate College students!

It’s back to school across Sciences Po’s campuses: this time in person, without capacity restrictions! The Undergraduate College is delighted to welcome its 4,626 students (all three years included) for the start of the academic year 2021-2022. We spoke to new and returning students, all of whom were enthusiastic to be on campus kickstarting an exciting year.

More
“Building Sustainable Development for the 21st Century” : an inspiring lecture by Nicholas Stern

“Building Sustainable Development for the 21st Century” : an inspiring lecture by Nicholas Stern

On 24 August, incoming students of Sciences Po’s School of Management and Innovation were invited to an inaugural lecture by Sir Nicholas Stern, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment (LSE) and author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. The conference, centering on the theme “Building Sustainable Development for the 21st Century: Policies, Institutions, Behaviour, Collaborations”, was an opportunity to welcome the students to the challenges and fundamental issues they will tackle during their studies and in their professional careers.

More