What’s Feminist about Feminist Foreign Policy? Sweden’s and Canada’s Foreign Policy Agendas

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Across politics and public discourse, feminism is experiencing a global renaissance. Yet feminist academic work is divided over the burgeoning use of the term, particularly in reference to economic and international development policy. For some, feminism has been co-opted for neoliberal economic ends; for others, it remains a critical force across the globe. This article explores the nascent feminist foreign policies of Sweden and Canada. Employing a discourse analysis of both states’ policy documents, it asks what the term “feminist” meant in preliminary attempts at constructing a feminist foreign policy. It argues that although both use the term “feminist,” they understand the term very differently, with Sweden centering it in domestic and international commitments to change, while Canada places greater emphasis on the private sector. This suggests that this policy agenda is still developing its central concepts, and is thus ripe for intervention on the part of policymakers and civil society organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-437
JournalInternational Studies Perspectives
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020

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