From Feminist Questions towards Feminist Processes
The current German government is the first to pursue a feminist foreign policy (FFP) in various policy fields. The article explains what the concept of FFP is aiming at and how the understanding and practices of diplomacy have changed so far. Furthermore, it provides an outlook on what still needs to be done.
The German government agreed to pursue a feminist foreign policy (FFP) in its coalition treaty in 2021. It is not the first one to do so, with Sweden paving the way in 2014 as the first country to claim – and the only one to then abolish – an FFP. Countries including Canada, France, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Liberia, Mongolia, Argentina and Slovenia have followed, though different states vary in the articulation of their FFP (Thomson and Färber, 2023). The German Federal Foreign Office has further developed its FFP with guidelines published in March 2023 (German Federal Foreign Office, 2023) after first mentioning FFP in its coalition agreement (Bundesregierung, 2021: 144).
The guidelines include both an external dimension, tackling questions of FFP’s implementation in different policy fields, such as climate, security and trade, and an internal dimension, which concerns the working methods and structures in Germany’s Foreign Service. They aim to offer both guidance for implementation and a definition of the German understanding of FFP. Meanwhile, debates between civil society groups, academics and policymakers over what a feminist approach to foreign policy can or should look like are ongoing, including in Germany (CFFP, 2021; Cheung et al, 2021).
Those discussions go beyond questions of concrete implementation but touch on the fundamental structures of (foreign) policy that have been historically hierarchical, patriarchal and exclusionary, as well as being shaped by colonial continuities (Achilleos-Sarll, 2018; Ansorg et al, 2021). We suggest that a feminist approach that aims for transformation rather than only improving the effectiveness of policies needs to self-reflect on its own foreign policy practices continuously and critically by questioning who is considered a relevant actor and which experiences, knowledges and expertise are shaping the decision-making and implementation processes of foreign policy.
The full article can be found here.
This article was first published by Bristol University Press on the 8th of January 2024.