Making it count – Towards a Dutch Feminist Foreign Policy

June 21, 2022

Good news, the Dutch Cabinet will develop a Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP). As consortia working in strategic partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we – Pax, Un Ponte Per, ABAAD, Defend Defenders and the SIHA Network – welcome this and are ready to be involved. Let’s make it count to prevent conflict and build peace!  


So, what can make the difference?  

The Netherlands can take an international stance to denounce the increasing backlash against women’s rights, by aiming to truly transform exclusionary and oppressive power systems. Feminism is an intersectional theory and approach. Dutch Feminist Foreign Policy provides an opportunity to ensure an intersectional and decolonial approach in promoting demilitarization, conflict prevention and non-violence. 

The Netherlands is following in the footsteps of Sweden, Canada, Mexico, France, Luxembourg and soon Germany in adopting a Feminist Foreign Policy. However, none of these countries have achieved a true FFP yet. It’s a process and one in which the Netherlands should aim to take on an international leadership role. It is an important signal that the Dutch Cabinet acknowledges that “gaps exist when it comes to comprehensive integration of gender equality goals…and more attention should be paid to gender integration of defense, trade, diplomacy and international cooperation”. This should certainly include a feminist security policy, that takes into account what security actually means to the most vulnerable and centers on human security.  

Involve activists and movements 

Gender as an unequal system of power is engrained in our personal, communal and national perceptions, norms and symbols and with it in our laws, institutions and structures. Our foreign policy and diplomatic spaces remain heavily masculine. Dismantling patriarchal exclusionary politics will require deep self-reflection, the willingness to facilitate space to share power and boldness to step beyond short-term national interests.  

In order to do this, it is crucial to be informed and inspired by feminist, peace and rights-based movements and organisations. We are ready to be involved with this process towards meaningful Dutch Feminist Foreign policy.   

Our recommendations

Link visionary principles to courageous leadership

Be informed and inspired by priorities and perspectives of feminist, peace and rights-based movements and organisations around the world to take a intersectional and decolonial approach. Ensure political commitment at the highest level, while encouraging other governments to adopt and implement meaningful FFPs. Include a domestic section focused on actionable adherence to international human rights laws and standards.  

Share power and amplify voices

Facilitate a co-creation process to develop Dutch FFP that particularly involves peace and human rights activists from the Global South. Elevate the voices of those who have suffered most from armed conflict and ensure the most marginalized are at the center of decision making. Develop consultation mechanisms to involve, learn from and dialogue with peace and human rights activists when developing country based implementation plans. Amplify and create space for diverse feminist voices, while developing innovative strategies to protect civic space.  

Avoid tokenism

Recognize the political weight of women and sexual and gender minorities and their role in political change and be vocal and clear in challenging any interventions that limit participation of women and gender minorities to merely a representation. At the same time, to ensure a shift in paradigms, challenge women’s and SOGIESC movements and their organizations to manifest their commitments to their agenda and rise to the narrative that legitimizes their existence. Support feminist movements to recognize the layers of constructed barriers that suppress and obstruct influence, rights and agenda development from the personal to the political, including structural legal inequality. Support civil society leaders to have access to and share feminist knowledge to use and integrate in their activism and work.  




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