When Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström announced the world’s first feminist foreign policy in 2014, her idea was met with suspicion and even ridicule.
“We call it the giggling factor.”
That’s how she put it.
Fast forward to now – eight years on – and we can only salute pioneers like Sweden, Canada and Mexico for the impressive road they have carved out for us to follow.
I am proud that my government is the first German government to pursue a feminist foreign policy.
It is about time. No-one knows that better than you, Kristina Lunz.
I applaud you and your international partners for staging the first Feminist Foreign Policy Summit.
Looking at the impressive number of experts, one would assume that feminist foreign policy is no longer a cause for laughter and ridicule. That the giggling has finally stopped. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I can still hear it. And I bet many of you can hear it too.
However, to me, that doubtfulness and criticism is an encouragement.
I see it as a call that we have even more explaining to do, particularly now – at a time when Europe finds itself in the midst of the most severe security crisis since the end of the Second World War.
Russia’s war on Ukraine is an attack on the Ukrainian people, on our rules-based international order, on our peace – on our values as liberal democracies.
And we see the war’s effects across the globe – with fuel and food prices soaring, hitting the weakest and poorest hardest.
If we want to respond effectively to these crises, we need a holistic security approach.
And we must put human security at its core.
That’s what a feminist foreign policy is all about.
It’s about looking at the here and now – the immediate security needs in times of war and conflict.
But it is also about looking at the long-term challenges and at all the factors affecting human security: social and economic development, health care, conflict prevention and, crucially: women’s rights.
Advancing rights means advancing security.
That’s why, in our feminist foreign policy approach, we will follow the Swedish example and focus on the three Rs: rights, representation and resources.
And we’ll add another overarching D to this triangle: D for diversity.
That’s because our policy is not exclusively about advancing women. What we seek are equal rights, equal representation and adequate resources for all those who are marginalised - whether it’s due to their gender, their origin, their religion, or their sexual orientation.
A feminist foreign policy is not about excluding, but about including.
It’s not about hearing fewer voices, but MORE voices.
If large parts of the population are unable to participate as equals, no society can reach its full potential.
And if large parts of the world’s population are excluded, we cannot achieve sustainable peace and security.
A feminist foreign policy is not a topic; it is a comprehensive approach to our foreign policy.
And we want the development of this policy approach to be comprehensive too.
Therefore, we will spend the next few months consulting with international partners, civil society, with colleagues at the Federal Foreign Office.
To me, that’s another major tenet of a feminist foreign policy: not to claim the truth for oneself, but to be willing to listen.
That’s why I am glad about this summit taking place at such an important moment in time.
We will listen carefully.
And we will listen in all seriousness.
Our crises are too grave, our challenges too severe, to take this lightly.
It’s time to stop the giggles. It’s time to say loud and clear – with a smile on our face – we stand for a feminist foreign policy. A foreign policy for all.