Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot about Feminist Foreign Policy

Good afternoon,

Back in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. But for many people – especially women, LGBTQI+ people and other marginalised groups – reality still hasn’t caught up to this ideal. Together, these groups constitute more than half of humanity.  Yet this majority is still suffering discrimination.

Without this majority, we cannot meet the global challenges we face. The world needs all smart, creative and hard-working people – including women, girls, and LGBTIQ+ people. Denying these groups opportunities seriously undermines global security and economic growth. So the Netherlands is committed to promoting gender equality.

And we have taken that commitment to the next level with our feminist foreign policy. Simply put, this means that, in all our work, we try to strengthen the rights, resources and representation of women and other marginalised groups. We do this through engagement and through listening. By finding common ground – even with actors we don’t fully agree with – and by walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy

In November the Netherlands will host a conference on Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy, following the example set by Germany last year.  This conference will bring together feminists from all over the world.  To exchange ideas, discuss dilemmas and consider our next steps. Steps like strengthening the Women, Peace, and Security agenda, and applying a gender lens to security analysis. This may sound a little abstract. But I saw with my own eyes how real – and important – it is when I served as a platoon commander in Afghanistan. The ravages of war are particularly devastating for women and girls. 

That’s why it’s vital that, together, we work towards a world of greater opportunity.  A world where equality in dignity and rights is not just words on paper, but a lived reality.

Thank you.