On International Women's Day, peace organisation PAX welcomes the approach the Netherlands takes in developing international political leadership with its Feminist Foreign Policy. The recent EU sanctions to punish perpetrators of sexual violence are an example of this.
We applaud the fact that the Netherlands continues its role as a pioneer in protecting women's rights. But now, the Netherlands should not shy away from difficult political choices. Dare to question how we as the Netherlands relate to the rest of the world, who we listen to, and to what extent self-interest and short-term thinking prohibits real equality and peace.
Impunity for sexual violence
The sanctions taken, help to break the impunity of sexual violence against women in war zones. Future measures should also include sexual violence against men and non-binary persons. But more is needed if the Netherlands wants to stop this violence. Most importantly, women's political influence in peacebuilding needs to be strengthened further to break systemic power inequality in all its manifestations.
Women's rights under pressure
'There can be no sustainable peace in a patriarchal world. Women's rights are under enormous pressure,' underlines PAX director Rolien Sasse. 'UN chief Guterres rightly emphasizes the growing influence of patriarchal leadership and movements. It is good that the EU is taking increasingly strong steps to defend women's rights. European foreign policy will be more effective when centered around feminist values such as equality and exclusivity. We believe that an international treaty criminalizing sexual violence in war zones should be the next step.'