Germany announces new "Feminist" Foreign Policy
Germany's center-left government on Wednesday announced new feminist guidelines to shape its diplomacy and development work. This includes the creation of a new "feminist foreign policy ambassador" role.
Germany will lobby to ensure that women's issues are more in focus globally, that women are better represented and that the country's generous development funds are allocated more to projects that address gender inequality, according to the guidelines.
Given Germany's influence as Europe's largest economy and a key diplomatic actor, the move gives new impetus to the feminist foreign policy movement pioneered by the left-wing Swedish government in 2014. Similar policies have been adopted in recent years by other countries like Canada, France, Mexico and Spain, although Sweden abandoned it last year after switching to a right-wing government.
"We will work hard to give our foreign service a more feminine face and increase the proportion of women in senior positions," Germany's first female foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said in the introduction to the 88-page feminist foreign policy guidelines. Only 26% of German ambassadors are currently women. "We will also allocate our financial resources more systematically in the service of feminist foreign policy," said the Greens politician.
Baerbock made a point of addressing gender-related issues during her travels, such as sexual violence during the conflict in Ukraine and abortion in the United States. Critics say the government should avoid appearing as a moralizer. Sweden has antagonized several allies after it began to focus more on gender equality and human rights in its diplomacy.
"We must not make the mistake of mixing a value-oriented foreign policy with a moralizing foreign policy," Bijan Djir-Sarai, secretary general of junior coalition partner the “Free Democrats”, told broadcaster Die Welt. Baerbock addressed those concerns in a speech on Wednesday introducing the guidelines, saying they were not "a missionary pamphlet with which we naively want to improve the world" and that Germany had much to learn from other countries.
Gender Equality Resources
Going forward, at least 8% of Germany's 12 billion euro development funds will go to projects with gender equality as their primary goal, while 85% should have it as a secondary goal, announced the development ministry.
In 2021, only 64% of these funds were to somehow improve gender quality. Gender will also be taken more into account in foreign policy spending, according to the Foreign Office.
Germany will lobby for increased participation of women in formal peace processes, given that this has been shown to increase the chances of lasting peace, according to policy guidelines. Those guidelines say Germany is well placed to do so as a member of the commission overseeing the UN Peacebuilding Fund and other initiatives. This fund is already supporting the African Union in establishing a network of women mediators.
According to the ministry, Germany will also seek to ensure that European foreign policy focuses more on women's issues. Former conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel became a feminist icon during her 16-year rule of Germany, but it wasn't until the end of her term that she accepted that label and admitted that "we should all be feminists".
And it wasn't until the current centre-left government took office at the end of 2021 that gender issues were brought to the forefront in policy, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz pushing for a gender-balanced cabinet.
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