Gender in foreign policymaking: the academic and policy implications of feminist foreign policy

Project: Research council

Project Details


This project explores the meaning and impact of this turn to feminist foreign policymaking (FFP), and the policy lessons that can be learned for the UK context. Gender equality is a clearly stated aim of the vast majority of international and transnational organisations. Sustainable development goal (SDG) 5 calls on all nations to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and the successive 8 Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions state that countries must consider the needs and rights of women in their security policy. Key bodies, such as the UN, the World Bank and the European Union, promote the goal of gender equality. Equally, in recent decades, nation states have adopted policies to address women's rights, with many creating new Ministries, government positions or legal frameworks in order to do so. Recently, some states have gone even further and adopted an explicitly feminist approach to (particularly foreign) policymaking (specifically Sweden, Canada, France and Mexico).

This project involved in-depth comparative case study work of the above four countries. This project has three main goals. Firstly, it aims to understand what the underlying principles of FFP are, and what these states mean when they use the term feminism. Secondly, it is underpinned by a desire for greater academic and policy clarity into the gendered nature of foreign policymaking. It aims to create a clearer framework through which we can understand how states come to address gender in their foreign policy, and in what ways they can achieve this. Secondly, it aims to generate insights into FFP which will speak to policymakers, practitioners and politicians, particularly in the UK, and provide recommendations for the development of foreign policymaking that is attentive to gender.

The first phase of the project will see the collation of policy documents from across the four case study countries. The project will focus primarily on documents which outline FFP but will also look at sources such as speeches made by officials to announce policy uptake, and grey literature produced by NGOs/CSOs. The second phase will involve in-depth, elite interviews with 1) government officials (e.g. civil servants; foreign ministry officials; political advisors to government or politicians), 2) politicians and 3) NGO/CSO representatives in the case study countries. Phase 3 will involve the analysis of the above data and the development of a framework to better understand approaches to gender within foreign policy, with the aim that such a framework can be used to promote and scaffold further work beyond this project.

The project will be supported throughout by a Stakeholder and Academic Advisory Group. This group provides an international network of policymakers, practitioners and academic researchers, with particularly strong links to those working in and around the issue of gender in foreign policy. Feedback loops with this group have been built into the research design of the project, and the project will conclude with a national dissemination event to which all members of the group will be invited.
Effective start/end date1/02/2231/01/26


  • Economic and Social Research Council


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