Feminist diplomacy, a concept in the making

“Feminist diplomacy” : the concept is recent, still a bit vague, even if the will displayed is not in doubt. It is about promoting equal rights for women and men in foreign policy, but also about applying it to oneself, within administrations. In a report to be handed over to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Wednesday November 18, The High Council for Equality examines the outlines of this feminist diplomacy, claimed by France since 2018. In March 2019 , Mr. Le Drian had published a column on this subject, with his colleague Marlène Schiappa, in Release.

Only three other countries, the report notes, have taken this route: Sweden, since 2014, and Canada, since 2017, joined by Mexico in January. This proactive approach takes place in a double context: that of a regression of rights (in particular as regards abortion), in many countries hit by the populist conservative wave, like Poland; but also that of unprecedented mobilizations, national or local, promoted by social networks. Women’s rights are becoming one of the most reliable measures of the openness and liberal character of a society, in the sense of mores.

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“The HCE believes that the primary objective of feminist diplomacy is to promote universal feminism against all forms of relativism, whether religious, cultural or political, specifies the report. Universal does not mean uniform, and feminism so qualified includes the diversity of histories, social practices and struggles, but it considers rights non-negotiable. “ Sweden has made a conceptual effort, by linking this feminist diplomacy to three criteria: the rights to be promoted, the question of the representation of women, and finally the resources mobilized.

“Pragmatic and scalable approach”

An advisory body, the High Council goes further by asserting that this diplomacy must by definition aim to “To modify in a lasting way, even to abolish the unequal structures of the patriarchal power”. France “Favors a pragmatic and scalable approach”, but we must strive for a “Transversal diplomacy”, notes the report, which would infuse all areas. However, trade issues and defense and security policy are not included in its spectrum today. So, “Only 20% of EU trade agreements mention women’s rights and 40% mention the promotion of gender equality”. But such a requirement can hardly be applied uniformly everywhere. Is it relevant to seek a feminine angle in questions of disarmament or cyberattacks, in conflict management in Nagorno-Karabakh or Iranian nuclear power?

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