We are Able! at the conference ‘Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy’

HomeWe are Able! at the conference ‘Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy’

The We are Able! consortium participated in the 1-2 November conference ‘Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy’, organized by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). The 2-day event included plenary sessions and workshops, attended by around 500 participants from all over the world.

The Netherlands is one of 22 states that have a Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP). This means the country has a specific focus on gender equality and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), empowerment of women and LGBTIQ+ people and inclusion and empowerment of women and girls with disabilities.*

A long way to go

The conference was intended to further shape and concretize this policy, learning from the first 1,5 years of implementation. Peter Derrek Hof, Dutch ambassador for women’s rights and gender equality, stated: “There’s still a long way to go, also in the ministry”.

At the start, one of the keynote speakers reiterated the disability rights movement slogan: ‘Nothing about us, without us!’. She added that there’s indeed still a long way to go notably in terms of protecting human rights and promoting meaningful participation in decision-making.

Others spoke about challenging power dynamics which cause inequality, and supporting women and girls in their own actions and decisions. They agreed that an intersectional lens is required to better address the double discrimination of women and girls with disabilities. There is a need for FFP to change the system, be transformative by addressing root causes of inequality, injustice and oppression.

Four R’s

The conference centered around four ‘R’s: Rights, Representation, Resources, and Reality check. It was encouraging for participants to hear brave and courageous leaders from the global south to testify about their struggles for women’s rights, calling for protection and safe spaces to be represented and opportunities to take part in political decision making.

Others made a plea for more flexible and long-term funds to support social movements for peace, justice and equality. As 90 per cent is going to urban-based stakeholders, mostly in the capital city, more funding should be made available to important movements in rural areas.

Religious and traditional leaders were mentioned as potential allies in mindset changes with impact at scale. It was also warned that, despite the fact that 22 countries have now adopted this FFP, there’s a backlash in terms of discrepancy between domestic and foreign policy and between policy and practice embedded in local knowledge and contexts. Next year’s conference will take place in the global south, in Mexico.

*More information on: Feminist foreign policy explained | News item | Government.nl

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