Perspectives on Feminist Foreign Policy: Revealing New Narratives, Challenging The Status Quo

In October 2022, we launched a feminist foreign policy essay “un-contest.”  In 2023, we published 11 essays from emerging thought leaders around the world. Our goal was to challenge and advance our collective thinking on a feminist foreign policy guided by the values of care, empathy, and nonviolence. This report summarizes key themes from the essays to guide future conversations on feminist foreign policies.  

Three prominent themes emerged from the essays that explore oppressive systems of power while proposing visions of alternative futures. 

  • First, authors recognized that feminist foreign policies are embedded within colonial legacies, which exert incredible influence on both global and domestic power dynamics.  
  • Second, authors were concerned about discrepancies between domestic and international policy frameworks, including in contexts with stated feminist foreign policies but without feminist domestic policies.  
  • Third, authors explored what security and safety mean from a feminist perspective and how the embrace of a feminist lens changes how we understand the world around us.  

The type of change that a feminist foreign policy calls for—deep structural and transformative change that dismantles power hierarchies in pursuit of greater equality among all people—might feel too large, diffuse, or even impossible to achieve. Indeed, there is considerable disagreement on what feminism means and conservative backlash against feminist progress world-wide. There are no simple answers or easy solutions. 

Rather, as the movement for a feminist foreign policy continues to grow in prominence, the feminist policy community must forgo perfection, instead embracing a spirit of curiosity, experimentation, and flexibility in advocating for policies that shift power, embrace an ethic of care, and pursue a future that affirms feminist values. This includes contending with reality—understanding the current status of feminist discourse in society writ large, how even labeling a policy as feminist may elicit a negative reaction, the sheer scale of the threat against feminist progress, and increasing global levels of warfare and authoritarianism.  

Read the essays published from the feminist foreign policy “un-contest.”