Substance and inspiration at the Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy Conference
Knowledge and inspiration, new connections, practical guidance and renewed energy for creating robust feminist foreign policy: these are just some of the outcomes of the Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy Conference (SFFP) that took place on 1 and 2 November 2023 at the World Forum in The Hague.
More than 750 participants from civil society organisations around the world, policymakers from more than 40 countries and academics took part in SFFP 2023. The event was opened by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, and the Prime Minister of Aruba, Evelyn Wever-Croes. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot closed the conference, handing over to next year’s host Mexico.
In part, SFFP 2023 is a follow-up to the Feminist Foreign Policy Ministerial Event that took place on 20 September 2023 during the UN General Assembly. At that meeting, co-organised by the Netherlands, 18 countries signed a political declaration on feminist foreign policy. SFFP 2023 included interactive plenary sessions, thematic sessions, art exhibitions and a varied marketplace. And it was enriched by the enormous diversity of the participants, who work around the world – often in the most difficult of circumstances – to defend the rights of women, girls and minority groups.
In her address, Ms Schreinemacher (Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) underlined the importance of cooperation and optimism with regard to women’s rights and gender equality: “In these difficult times, it’s hard not to feel like the tide is against us. We are facing a global backlash against women’s rights, and the rights of LHGBTIQ+ people. And against sexual and reproductive health and rights. But even so, I believe that the best response to this is optimism. Showing that feminism is a solution. That’s why the Netherlands is committed to pursuing a feminist foreign policy, and why we’re urging others to do the same. Because this is something we can’t do alone.”
At the conference, Ms Bruins Slot (Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs) gave a sneak preview of the new tool for Feminist Foreign Policy, an online practical guidance for applying feminist foreign policy. After all, feminist foreign policy is not a theoretical concept, but an instrument for achieving tangible improvements in women’s rights and the position of minority groups and for equal opportunities and equal treatment around the globe.
Ms Bruins Slot stressed the importance of Feminist Foreign Policy in her speech: “The violence in Israel and Gaza, the war in Ukraine - these conflicts demonstrate why Feminist Foreign Policy is so very crucial. Because women, in all their diversity, foster dialogue and peace. Feminist Foreign Policy is not a soft topic. It deals with the harsh realities of many women, girls and marginalised groups. I want to thank all participants in our conference for speaking up to ensure all voices are heard and included.”