Feminist Foreign Policy | FFP

In its coalition agreement, the federal government committed itself to a feminist foreign policy in order to strengthen the rights, representation, and resources of women and other marginalized groups. Federal Minister Baerbock emphasised in her keynote speech: “Fortunately we are not starting from scratch, and fortunately we are not doing it alone. Instead, we can learn from others who have already set out on this path”. The dialogical programme of Diplomacy by Networking brings young, foreign diplomats from the local embassies together to exchange experiences, successes, and challenges from their respective countries. Together with decision-makers and representatives of politics, science, and civil society, we intend to work on concrete implementation ideas and possibilities for action.

Report on the 2nd Executive Seminar on Feminist Foreign Policy by Montserrat Rovalo Otero (Mexico)

In November 2023, I had the privilege of participating in the 2nd Executive Seminar on Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) alongside 13 other experienced, intelligent, curious and kind diplomats.


It was with passion and enthusiasm that Ambassador Heidrun Tempel and her team organised a programme of engaging discussions with high-ranking officials and representatives of civil society, political foundations, media, academia, think-tanks and scientific organisations.


Some participants came from countries that have adopted a FFP, like Mexico. Others came from countries that are considering doing so or that have implemented relevant measures for gender equality. Curiously enough, despite our different backgrounds, there were shared questions that we constantly raised and discussed during the seminar. For example, what does “feminist” mean? Is it the most adequate term to qualify foreign policy? Can states be feminist? Should FFP be diversity-inclusive and transformative?


Mexico defines its FFP as a “set of principles that seek to promote government actions to reduce and eliminate structural differences, gender gaps and inequalities, in order to build a more just and prosperous society”. But what does that mean in practical terms? How can I as a diplomat make FFP real and meaningful in my daily work and life?


When we talk about FFP, we should think about inclusiveness and intersectionality. FFP is not a policy of women, by women and for women. One of our peers – the only man in the group – highlighted how important it is that men are also included in conversations and training courses about FFP.


FFP can be seen as a conceptual framework that can help to (1) structure, systematise and promote existing initiatives; (2) identify biases, stereotypes and power structures; (3) design solutions that are gender-transformative and diversity-sensitive; (4) and prioritise awareness-raising and capacity-building on gender issues.


But how can we make our FFP sustainable in the long term and shield it from political and ideological shifts? When asked about this at a conference in Brussels, Minister Annalena Baerbock underscored that “FFP should be principled, pragmatic and persistent”.


FFP should require everyone in our ministries, at all levels, to incorporate a gender perspective on a daily basis and to promote gender equality, diversity and respect for human rights.


Moreover, we need alliances and compromises with like-minded countries. In an international context characterised by increasing polarisation, politicisation and pushback against the gender agenda, FFP can provide a relevant platform for forging alliances, identifying common positions and planning strategies, particularly in multilateral forums.


Even when countries have not introduced an FFP, we have common challenges and objectives despite our different realities and these objectives can serve as bridges to bring developed and developing countries together to promote gender equality and diversity. Undoubtedly, this seminar brought us closer to this goal.


I want to use these final lines to thank Germany’s Federal Foreign Office for sharing its experience and providing a safe and friendly space to think, discuss, constructively criticise and make proposals about FFP. In times of hectic schedules and excessive workload, a two-week pause for deep and meaningful reflection was definitely a true gift.