The Best Foreign Policy Puts Women at the Center

Greater Equality Leads to Greater Wealth and Security for All

Finnish Minister of Education Li Andersson, Minister of Interior Maria Ohisalo, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Minister of Finance Katri Kulmuni in Helsinki, December 2019. Vesa Moilanen / Reuters

In 2014, Margot Wallström, then serving as the foreign minister of Sweden, proclaimed that the Swedish government would adopt a so-called feminist foreign policy, becoming the first nation ever to do so. Since then, Canada, France, and Mexico have followed suit, and a handful of other nations—most recently, Luxembourg, Malaysia, and Spain—have pledged to develop similar policies. 

In each of these countries, the announcements have provoked questions among foreign policy experts. What, exactly, do these policies set out to achieve? At a time of rising global activism for gender equality, what does it mean to conduct foreign policy from a feminist perspective? And in an era of economic uncertainty, is a focus on gender equality an unnecessary distraction?  

A Natural Fit

Evidence from recent studies suggests that the status of women is closely aligned with a country’s prosperity and security. In this respect, promoting gender equality as a foreign policy

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