The purpose of the feminist foreign policy has been to raise the ambition for the global work with women's rights. Now Sweden's new government chooses to drop the term feminist foreign policy. Image from Hingoli, India. Photo: Amol Sonar. Source: Unsplash.

Development magazine explains

Eight years of feminist foreign policy - now it is being scrapped

In October 2014, Sweden became the first country in the world to present a feminist foreign policy. Eight years later, the concept will be abolished. It confirms that newly appointed Foreign Minister Tobias Billström (M). But what has feminist foreign policy really meant? What results has it produced so far? And what happens to foreign policy now? The development magazine clears up your doubts. 

When the social democratic government launched Sweden's feminist foreign policy, the aim was to raise the ambition for international equality work and the work with girls' and women's rights globally. Feminist foreign policy has been based on three R's: rights, representation and resources, and through these the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has analyzed which differences exist between girls and boys and women and men respectively within the areas in order to be able to make targeted efforts in this way.

What results has feminist foreign policy produced?

Feminist foreign policy has, according to the previous government, inspired other countries to in-depth work with gender equality issues. Sweden has participated in and organized conferences with a focus on equality issues and has been driving the work with the EU's five-year Gender Action Plan. In this way, the feminist foreign policy has contributed to issues relating to girls' and women's rights ending up on the agenda - both in the national work of other countries and in international bodies.

Sweden's feminist foreign policy has also implied an increased focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights globally. In practice, it is about improved access to good maternity care, combating child and forced marriage, including sex education in school education, providing modern contraceptives and enabling safe abortions. Swedish aid funds, for example, have financed several thousand new midwives per year in South Sudan, Zambia and Afghanistan.

However, not everyone is convinced of the positive effects of feminist foreign policy. Debaters have criticized it for being poster policy and believed that there are shortcomings in the implementation when it comes to arms exports and migration policy.

- It is not possible to combine the necessary pragmatic foreign policy with the desired feminist placard policy, wrote Blanche Sande, former editor of the liberal market magazine Smedjan, 2018.

The new government scraps the concept of feminist foreign policy

Sweden newly appointed Foreign Minister Tobias Billström (M) has confirmed that the concept of feminist foreign policy will not be used of the new bourgeois government. According to Billström, it is because the label feminist foreign policy obscures the content of the policy. Fhowever, the focus on gender equality will remain, the new government believes. That the concept of feminist foreign policy is patterned out has received criticism from organizations within the Swedish women's movement who calls it "a punch in the stomach for all women around the world".

The content of Swedish foreign policy will also change and instead focus on Sweden's immediate area. IN The Tidal Agreement, the agreement between the government and the Sweden Democrats, describes the cooperation parties that Sweden's aid should be used as a tool to handle various migration-related issues. The parties have also announced that Sweden's aid must be lowered, something that among other things Save the Children have criticized.

- When Sweden now lowers aid, other countries risk following suit and that would be completely devastating, says Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, international director at Rädda Barnen, to Sveriges Radio.

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