Millions of women in developing nations still lack basic human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and access to capital. And, while first world countries talk about the importance of women’s rights, they often do little beyond making speeches.
Not so with Sweden.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, has been executing a “feminist foreign policy” since she entered office in 2014. It showed once more that she is sticking to this approach during the World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul in late May, where she spoke on several panels about the importance of her strategy.
So, what is feminist foreign policy? The Scandinavian country states that it is executing a foreign policy that considers and gives support to issues that specifically affect women, such as maternal health, reproductive rights, and sexual violence. The government’s official website goes so far as to state that “equality between women and men is a fundamental aim of Swedish foreign policy.”
The Swedish Foreign Service outlined a wide range of ways to tackle the struggles of women in its 2015-2018 action plan. Their published strategy mentions increasing the agency of women and girls by promoting their rights and opportunities in civil society organizations. The Foreign Service will also aid women’s access to productive and economic resources, promote a gender-equitable division of unpaid housework, and increase access to legal and safe abortions.
Sweden takes pride in being a self-proclaimed “humanitarian superpower,” and is the world’s sixth largest development aid donor, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Minister Wallström stated during the World Humanitarian Summit that this policy of gender equality will be executed in the country’s aid efforts.
“Sweden will continue to only finance humanitarian projects that take into account the different needs of women and men, girls and boys according to [the] UN’s Gender Marker system. We find that creating financial incentives has significantly increased the number of projects designed to meet the needs of women and men, girls and boys,” she explained.
“Humanitarian partners need to ensure that gender-based violence is included in cluster response plans, reports, projects, programs and pooled funds,” Minister Wallström outlined.
These methods for gender equality are not limited to the country’s humanitarian efforts. The foreign minister has also been furthering a feminist approach for Sweden’s relations with foreign countries.