Gender norms, global hierarchies and the evolution of feminist foreign policy

View author details View Less
  • 1 University of Bath, , UK
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

Gender equality has long been adopted by states to indicate liberal values and respect for international norms. Feminist thought argues that the gendered hierarchies created by these norms underpin and sustain international relations. This article contributes to this literature on gendered norms and hierarchies through the case study of feminist foreign policy. It addresses four case-study countries who adopt feminist foreign policy – Sweden, Canada, France and Mexico – arguing that the developing norm of feminist foreign policy acts to signify liberal modernity and adherence to the international liberal order when deployed by states. It further argues that this deployment of feminist foreign policy contributes to existing gendered global hierarchies and these states’ positions on the world stage. As such, it contributes to the developing literature on feminist foreign policy and to wider work on norms and hierarchies around gender in global politics.

  • Achilleos-Sarll, C. (2018) Reconceptualising foreign policy as gendered, sexualised and racialised: towards a postcolonial feminist foreign policy (analysis), Journal of International Women’s Studies, 19(1): 3449.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K. and Bergman-Rosamond, A. (2016) Swedish feminist foreign policy in the making: ethics, politics, and gender, Ethics and International Affairs, 30(3): 32334. doi: 10.1017/S0892679416000241

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K. and Bergman-Rosamond, A. (2019) Feminist foreign policy 3.0: advancing ethics and gender equality in global politics, The SAIS Review of International Affairs, 39(1): 3748. doi: 10.1353/sais.2019.0003

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K. and True, J. (2020) Gendering foreign policy: a comparative framework for analysis, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 14362. doi: 10.1093/fpa/orz026

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K., Bergman-Rosamond, A. and Kronsell, A. (2019) Theorising feminist foreign policy, International Relations, 33(1): 2339. doi: 10.1177/0047117818811892

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Anholt, S. (2009) Nation ‘branding’: propaganda or statecraft?, Public Diplomacy Magazine, Summer: 8890.

  • Baldwin, G. and Taylor, S. (2019) The global pushback on women’s rights: the state of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, International Peace Institute Policy Brief, www.ipinst.org/2019/09/global-pushback-on-womens-rights.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Banet-Weiser, S. (2018) Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Barry, E. (2017) Sweden’s proponent of ‘feminist foreign policy’, shaped by abuse, New York Times, Accessed 17 November 2021, www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/world/europe/margot-wallstrom-sweden.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bergman-Rosamond, A. (2019) Swedish feminist foreign policy and ‘gender cosmopolitanism’, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 21735. doi: 10.1093/fpa/orz025

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berry, M. (2015) When ‘bright futures’ fade: paradoxes of women’s empowerment in Rwanda, Signs, 41(1): 127. doi: 10.1086/681899

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berry, M. and Lake, M. (2017) [Book reviews of: Gender, Violence and Politics in the Democratic Republic of Congo, by Jane Freedman (2015); Mobilizing Transnational Gender Politics in Post-Genocide Rwanda, by Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel (2015); and Women and Power in Post-Conflict Africa, by Aili Mari Tripp, (2015)] Politics & Gender, 13(2): 33649. doi: 10.1017/S1743923X1700006X

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bjereld, U. and Möller, U. (2015) Swedish foreign policy, in The Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ch 25.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brooks, S. (2010) Canada–United States relations, in D.E. Smith and J.C. Courtney (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brown, S. and Swiss, L. (2017) Canada’s feminist international assistance policy: game changer or fig leaf?, in K.A.H. Graham and A.M. Maslove (eds) How Ottawa Spends, 2017–2018 Accessed 17 November 2021, https://carleton.ca/hos/wp-content/uploads/How-Ottawa-Spends-2017-2018-Ottawa-@150.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Butler, M. (2009) Canadian women and the (re)production of women in Afghanistan, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22(2): 21734. doi: 10.1080/09557570902893270

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Calkin, S. (2015) ‘Tapping’ women for post-crisis capitalism: evidence from the 2012 World Development Report, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 17(4): 61129. doi: 10.1080/14616742.2015.1071994

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chant, S. (2016) Galvanizing girls for development? Critiquing the shift from ‘smart’ to ‘smarter economics’, Progress in Development Studies, 16(4): 31429. doi: 10.1177/1464993416657209

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chapnick, A. (1999) The middle power, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 7(2): 7382. doi: 10.1080/11926422.1999.9673212

  • Chapnick, A. (2019) The origins of Canada’s feminist foreign policy, International Journal, 74(2): 191205. doi: 10.1177/0020702019850827

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Childs, S. and Krook, M.L. (2008) Critical mass theory and women’s political representation, Political Studies, 56(3): 72536. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.​00712.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Childs, S. and Krook, M.L. (2009) Analyzing women’s substantive representation: from critical mass to critical actors, Government and Opposition, 44(2): 12545. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-7053.2009.01279.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clement, R. and Thompson, L. (2019) Toward a Feminist Foreign Policy in the United States, Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clisby, S. and Enderstein, A.M. (2017) Caught between the orientalist–occidentalist polemic: gender mainstreaming as feminist transformation or neocolonial subversion?, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 19(2): 23146. doi: 10.1080/​14616742.2016.1258262

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, S.E. and True, J. (2017) Norm entrepreneurship in foreign policy: William Hague and the prevention of sexual violence in conflict, Foreign Policy Analysis, 13(3): 70121. doi: 10.1093/fpa/orw065

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Engberg-Pedersen, L., Fejerskov, A. and Cold-Ravnkilde, M.S. (2019) Rethinking Gender Equality in Global Governance: The Delusion of Norm Diffusion, 1st edn, Cham: Springer International and Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Englehart, N.A. and Miller, M.K. (2020) Women’s rights in international law: critical actors, structuration, and the institutionalization of norms, Politics & Gender, 16(2): 36387.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Farris, S.R. (2017) In the Name of Women’s Rights: The Rise of Femonationalism, Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press.

  • Finnemore, M. and Sikkink, K. (1998) International norm dynamics and political change, International Organization, 52(4): 887917. doi: 10.1162/002081898550789

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fraser, N. (2009) Feminism, capitalism and the cunning of history, New Left Review, 56: 97117.

  • Gill-Atkinson, L., Ridge, A., Pradela, J., Tilbury, B., Warambourg, C. and Peña Porras, T. (2021) From seeds to roots: trajectories towards feminist foreign policy, International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Global Affairs Canada (2017) Canada’s feminist international assistance policy: #hervoiceherchoice, http://international.gc.ca/world-monde/assets/pdfs/iap2-eng.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goetz, A.M. (2019) The politics of preserving gender inequality: de-institutionalisation and re-privatisation, Oxford Development Studies, 48(1): 217. doi: 10.1080/​13600818.2019.1672144

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goetz, A.M. (2020) The new competition in multilateral norm-setting: transnational feminists & the illiberal backlash, Daedalus, 149(1): 16079. doi: 10.1162/daed_a_01780

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haastrup, T. (2020) Gendering South Africa’s foreign policy: toward a feminist approach?, Foreign Policy Analysis 16(2): 199216, https://doi-org.ezproxy1.bath.ac.uk/10.1093/fpa/orz030.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hansen, L. (2006) Security as Practice: Discourse Analysis and the Bosnian War, London: Routledge.

  • Khalid, M. (2011) Gender, orientalism and representations of the ‘other’ in the War on Terror, Global Change, Peace & Security, 23(1): 1529. doi: 10.1080/14781158.​2011.540092

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Korolczuk, E. and Graff, A. (2018) Gender as ‘Ebola from Brussels’: the anticolonial frame and the rise of illiberal populism, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 43(4): 797821. doi: 10.1086/696691

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kovats, E. (2017) The emergence of powerful anti-gender forces in Europe and the crisis of liberal democracy, in Köttig et al (ed) Gender and Far Right Politics in Europe, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 17589.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lawler, P. (2013) The ‘good state’ debate in international relations, International Politics, 50(1): 1837. doi: 10.1057/ip.2012.26

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee-Koo, K. (2020) Pro-gender foreign policy by stealth: navigating global and domestic politics in Australian foreign policy making, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 23649, https://doi-org.ezproxy1.bath.ac.uk/10.1093/fpa/orz029.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mason, C.L. (2019) Buzzwords and fuzzwords: flattening intersectionality in Canadian aid, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 25(2): 20319. doi: 10.1080/11926422.2019.​1592002

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ministre de l’Europe et des Affaires Ètrangères (2018) France’s international strategy on gender equality, www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/meae_strategie_-__en_cle076525.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mohanty, C.T. (1988) Under Western eyes: feminist scholarship and colonial discourses, Feminist Review, 30(1): 6188. doi: 10.1057/fr.1988.42

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nimijean, R. (2018) Introduction: is Canada back? Brand Canada in a turbulent world, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 24(2): 12738. doi: 10.1080/11926422.2018.1481873

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Parisi, L. (2020) Canada’s new feminist international assistance policy: business as usual?, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 16380, OnlineFirst, https://doi-org.ezproxy1.bath.ac.uk/10.1093/fpa/orz027.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reyntjens, F. (2011) Constructing the truth, dealing with dissent, domesticating the world: governance in post-genocide Rwanda, African Affairs, 110(438): 134. doi: 10.1093/afraf/adq075

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robinson, F. (2019) Feminist foreign policy as ethical foreign policy? A care ethics perspective, Journal of International Political Theory, 17(1): 2037.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rottenberg, C. (2018) The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Shepherd, L.J. (2011) Sex, security and superhero(in)es: from 1325 to 1820 and beyond, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 13(4): 50421. doi: 10.1080/14616742.2011.611659

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sjoberg, L. (2017) Revealing international hierarchy through gender lenses, in A. Zarakol (ed) Hierarchies in World Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 95113.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Skjelsbæk, I. and Tryggestad, T.L. (2020) Pro-gender norms in Norwegian peace engagement: balancing experiences, values, and interests, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 18198, OnlineFirst, https://doi-org.ezproxy1.bath.ac.uk/10.1093/fpa/orz028.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spivak, G. (1988) Can the subaltern speak?, in C. Nelson and L. Grossberg (eds) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, London: Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stabile, C.A. and Kumar, D. (2005) Unveiling imperialism: media, gender and the war on Afghanistan, Media, Culture & Society, 27(5): 76582. doi: 10.1177/0163443705055734

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sundström, M.R. and Elgström, O. (2020) Praise or critique? Sweden’s feminist foreign policy in the eyes of its fellow EU members, European Politics and Society, 21(4): 41833.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sundström, M.R., Zhukova, E. and Elgström, O. (2021) Spreading a norm-based policy? Sweden’s feminist foreign policy in international media, Contemporary Politics, 27: 43960.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2015) Swedish foreign policy action plan for FFP 2015–2018, including indicative measures for 2018, www.government.se/495f60/contentassets/66afd4cf15ee472ba40e3d43393c843a/handlingsplan-feministisk-utrikespolitik-2018-enge.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2018) Handbook – Sweden’s feminist foreign policy, www.government.se/reports/2018/08/handbook-swedens-feminist-foreign-policy/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2019) The Swedish Foreign Service action plan for feminist foreign policy in 2019–2022, including direction and measures for 2020, www.government.se/499195/contentassets/2b694599415943ebb466af0f838da1fc/the-swedish-foreign-service-action-plan-for-feminist-foreign-policy-20192022-including-direction-and-measures-for-2020.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thompson, L. (2020) Feminist Foreign Policy: A Framework, Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women.

  • Thomson, J. (2020) What’s feminist about feminist foreign policy? Sweden’s and Canada’s foreign policy agendas, International Studies Perspectives, 21(4): 42437. doi: 10.1093/isp/ekz032

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tiessen, R. (2019) What’s new about Canada’s feminist international assistance policy: the problem and possibilities of ‘more of the same’, University of Calgary, School of Public Policy Publications, SPP Research Paper, 12: 44.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tiessen, R. and Carrier, K. (2015) The erasure of ‘gender’ in Canadian foreign policy under the Harper Conservatives: the significance of the discursive shift from ‘gender equality’ to ‘equality between women and men’, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 21(2): 95111. doi: 10.1080/11926422.2014.977310

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Towns, A. (2009) The status of women as a standard of ‘civilization’, European Journal of International Relations, 15(4): 681706. doi: 10.1177/1354066109345053

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Towns, A. (2010) Women and States: Norms and Hierarchies in International Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Towns, A. (2012) Norms and social hierarchies: understanding international policy diffusion ‘from below’, International Organization, 66(2): 179209. doi: 10.1017/S0020818312000045

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Towns, A. and Rumelili, B. (2017) Taking the pressure: unpacking the relation between norms, social hierarchies, and social pressures on states, European Journal of International Relations, 23(4): 75679. doi: 10.1177/1354066116682070

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Towns, A., Karlsson, E. and Eyre, J. (2014) The equality conundrum: gender and nation in the ideology of the Sweden Democrats, Party Politics, 20(2): 23747. doi: 10.1177/1354068813520272

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • True, J. (2016) Explaining the global diffusion of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, International Political Science Review, 37(3): 30723. doi: 10.1177/0192512116632372

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vucetic, S. (2017) A nation of feminist arms dealers? Canada and military exports, International Journal, 72(4): 50319. doi: 10.1177/0020702017740156

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Welsh, J. (2010) Canada and the world: beyond middle power, in D.E. Smith and J.C. Courtney (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zarakol, A. (2017) Theorising hierarchies: an introduction, in A. Zarakol (ed) Hierarchies in World Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 115.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zwingel, S. (2012) How do norms travel? Theorizing international women’s rights in transnational perspective, International Studies Quarterly, 56(1): 11529. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2011.00701.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zwingel, S. (2016) Translating International Women’s Rights: The CEDAW Convention in Context, 1st edn, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • 1 University of Bath, , UK

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 51 51 51
Full Text Views 4 4 4
PDF Downloads 7 7 7

Altmetrics

Dimensions