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Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

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p. 7 Matilda Häggblom/Government Offices of Sweden
p. 11 Kristian Pohl
p. 15 Catarina Axelsson/Government Offices of Sweden
p. 42 Government Offices of Sweden
p. 55 and 65 Moa Haeggblom/Government Offices of Sweden
p. 72 Catarina Axelsson/Government Offices of Sweden
p. 86 Johan Schiff

2 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Sweden’s feminist foreign policy
3.5 Exemples of internal work..............43
Foreword ................................................ 6 3.6 Voices on feminist
foreign policy.............................................48
1. Introduction........................................ 8
4. M
 ethods for norm changes and
2. What is feminist foreign policy? ... 10 mobilisation ..................................... 52
2.1 The core of the feminist foreign
policy............................................................ 11 5. Working methods within the various
The three Rs...............................................13 subsidiary areas of foreign policy .60
2.2 The framework for the feminist 5.1 Foreign and security policy.............63
foreign policy.............................................16 5.1.1 Peace and security ........................63
2.3 Objective areas for Swedens's 5.1.2 Human rights, democracy
feminist foreign policy..............................19 and the rule of law....................................68
2.3.1 Full enjoyment of human 5.1.3 Disarmament and
rights............................................................20 non-proliferation......................................72
2.3.2 Freedom from physical, 5.2 International development
psychological and sexual violence......22 cooperation...............................................74
2.3.3 Participation in preventing and 5.3 Trade and promotion policy ............85
resolving conflicts, and post-conflict
peacebuilding............................................24 6. Working methods at country level .92
2.3.4 Political participation and
influence in all areas of society.............25 7. Pursuing a contentious issue ...... 102
2.3.5 Economic rights and
empowerment .........................................27 8. References...................................... 108
2.3.6 Sexual and reproductive
health and rights (SRHR) .......................28 8.1 Documents...................................... 108
8.2 Websites ............................................111
3. W
 orking methods within the 8.3 Twitter.................................................111
Swedish Foreign Service................. 30
3.1 Leadership...........................................31
3.2 Ownership ..........................................34
3.3 Guidance..............................................36
3.4 Support................................................39

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 5


In October 2014, Sweden became the Resources. This is the basis for the
first country in the world to launch a analysis of the conditions where we
feminist foreign policy. This means work. What do the statistics say about
applying a systematic gender equality the differences between women and
perspective throughout the whole men, girls and boys? Do they have
foreign policy agenda. the same rights – to education, work,
marriage, divorce and inheritance?
This handbook should be a resource for Are women represented where decisions
international work relating to gender that affect them are made – in parlia-
equality and all women’s and girls’ full ments, on boards and in legal systems?
enjoyment of human rights. It contains Is gender equality taken into consid-
a selection of methods and experiences eration when resources are allocated
that can provide examples and inspira- – in central government budgets or
tion for further work of the Swedish development projects?
Foreign Service, other parts of the
civil service and society as a whole. The policy has achieved significant
The handbook also describes the first results. We have initiated a network of
four years of working with a feminist women mediators who are active all
foreign policy. Thereby, it responds around the world. We have championed
to the considerable national and issues relating to women, peace and
international interest in this policy. security within the UN Security
Council. We have campaigned for
The feminist foreign policy begins and women’s and girls’ sexual and reproduc-
ends with reality. The policy shall be tive health and rights, and for greater
based on facts and statistics about girls’ access to midwives, as well as for
and women’s everyday lives, and shall increased female representation in peace
produce results in people’s lives. processes, legal systems and in the
Otherwise, it loses its relevance. world’s biggest digital reference work,
The work with the feminist foreign
policy is structured according to One important starting point for our
three Rs: Rights, Representation and work is that gender equality is not a

6 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

separate women’s issue – it benefits done and is being done, not least since
everyone. Research shows that gender the methods employed are constantly
equal societies enjoy better health, being refined based on new knowledge
stronger economic growth and higher and new analyses.
security. It also shows that gender
equality contributes to peace, and that With its feminist foreign policy,
peace negotiations in which women Sweden’s feminist government has
have taken part have a better chance of taken another step towards realising
being sustainable. its vision of a gender equal world.
By sharing knowledge and experiences,
This handbook covers activities carried we can all contribute towards promo-
out by thousands of people all over ting global gender equality at a faster
the world. Therefore, it can only include pace. Change is possible.
a selection of everything that has been
Isabella Lövin Margot Wallström Ann Linde
Minister for International Minister for Minister for
Development Cooperation Foreign Affairs EU Affairs and Trade
and Climate

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 7

1. Introduction

8 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Sweden is the first country in the world This handbook is divided up into seven
to pursue a feminist foreign policy. The sections, combining methods with
policy was launched in 2014 in response examples of what the policy has
to the discrimination and systematic achieved. The introductory chapter
subordination that still mark the daily describes what Sweden’s feminist
lives of countless women and girls foreign policy involves and is based on.
around the world. The feminist foreign The next section reviews the methods
policy entails applying a systematic used to ensure the impact of the policy
gender equality perspective throughout in the Swedish Foreign Service. The
foreign policy. One starting point is following chapter provides examples of
that gender equality is an objective in how the feminist foreign policy works
itself, but it is also essential for with norm change and mobilisation.
achieving the Government’s other Then follows a chapter with examples
overall objectives, such as peace, of overall methods that have been used
security and sustainable development. within the three policy areas encompas-
sed by Swedish foreign policy – foreign
This handbook describes how Sweden’s and security policy, development
feminist foreign policy was launched, cooperation, and trade and promotion
gathered pace and was developed into policy. The two concluding chapters
a hallmark for Swedish dialogue in a take a closer look at operations at
world characterised by gender inequali- country level and describe the work
ty. The handbook is based on experien- involved in pursuing a contentious issue.
ces from the work of the Swedish
Foreign Service, and focuses on the
practical implementation of the policy.
It is intended to support the Swedish
Foreign Service in its ongoing work,
while also satisfying the considerable
national and international interest in
Sweden’s feminist foreign policy.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 9

2. What is feminist foreign policy?

10 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

2.1 The core of the feminist
foreign policy

Essentially, Sweden’s feminist foreign ”Throughout the world, women

policy is a working method and a are neglected in terms of
perspective that takes three Rs as
resources, representation and
its starting point and is based on a
fourth R. The implication is that the rights. This is the simple reason
Swedish Foreign Service, in all its parts, why we are pursuing a feminist
shall strive to strengthen all women’s foreign policy – with full force,
and girls’ Rights, Representation and
Resources, based on the Reality in all around the world.” 1
which they live. Sweden’s feminist Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström

foreign policy is a transformative

agenda that aims to change structures
and enhance the visibility of women
and girls as actors. Discrimination
and gender inequality in all life’s stages
and contexts shall be counteracted.
The policy is based on intersectionality,
which means taking into account
the fact that people have different
living conditions, levels of influence
and needs. 

1 Statement of Government Policy on Foreign Affairs 2018

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 11

”The most controversial issue is also
the most basic: the right to decide
over your own body, sexuality and
reproduction. There are still many
women who are unable to decide
whom to marry, whom to have sex
with or when to have children. This
is absurd, and should be relegated
to the annals of history.” 2
 inister for International Development Cooperation
and Climate Isabella Lövin


12 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The Three Rs

Rights: The Swedish Foreign Service

shall promote all women’s and girls’ full Whose rights? 3
enjoyment of human rights, including
by combating all forms of violence and •• 104 countries around the world
discrimination that restrict their have laws preventing women
freedom of action. from carrying out certain jobs
(for example in mining, manu-
Representation: The Swedish Foreign facturing, the construction
Service shall promote women’s industry, energy, agriculture,
participation and influence in decision- water and transport).
making processes at all levels and in all
areas, and shall seek dialogue with •• In 18 countries, men can legally
women representatives at all levels, prevent their wives from working.
including in civil society.
•• 59 countries have no laws
Resources: The Swedish Foreign forbidding sexual harassment
Service shall work to ensure that in the workplace.
resources are allocated to promote
gender equality and equal opportunities •• 123 countries have no laws
for all women and girls to enjoy human regarding sexual harassment in
rights. The Swedish Foreign Service education.
shall also promote targeted measures
for different target groups. •• 37 countries have no laws to
protect pregnant employees
from being dismissed.

•• 45 economies have no laws to

protect women against violence
in the home.i hemmet.

3 The World Bank, “Women, Business and the Law 2018”

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 13

”Women must actively
Representation – what is participate in all decision-
the current situation? making processes at all
•• Statistics from 2017 show that levels and be active in
there are only 17 women heads defining priorities and
of state in all the world’s nations. resource allocation,
In a survey carried out by the
Inter-Parliamentary Union in in times of peace and
March 2018, 193 countries were in times of war.” 6
ranked based on the proportion Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström
of women in parliament, with
Rwanda, Bolivia and Cuba
topping the list. Sweden came
seventh, with 43.6 per cent

•• A study of 31 major peace

processes between 1992 and 2011
revealed that only nine per
cent of negotiators were women.
Of those who signed peace
agreements, more than 96 per cent
were men.5


14 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

”Getting more women into
business and trade is sound Equal distribution
economic policy. Gender of resources
equality contributes to growth •• Women own less than 20
in all countries, regardless of per cent of the world’s land
the level of development.” 7 resources. In many countries,
women do not have the legal
Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde
right to own land.8

•• Globally, 300 million fewer

women own a mobile phone
compared to men. 9 This limits
women’s opportunities to
access information and their
participation in and access to
services such as credit which,
in many countries, are now
provided via mobile telephony.

7 w
8 w
9 och-handelsminister-ann-linde/

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 15

2.2 The framework for the
International frameworks feminist foreign policy
that form the basis for
Sweden’s commitment
– a selection Sweden’s foreign policy has long been
characterised by a clear rights and
•• The Universal Declaration of gender equality perspective. However,
Human Rights. the feminist foreign policy represents
an increase in ambitions. The policy is
•• The Convention on the also an integral part of the work of a
Elimination of All Forms of feminist government and a continua-
Discrimination Against Women). tion of many years of national gender
equality policy
•• The declarations and actions plans
from the UN World Conference Sweden made a name for itself early
on Women in Beijing and the on with its progressive gender equality
International Conference on policy featuring social reforms to
Population and Development strengthen women and girls at every
in Cairo, as well as the final stage of life and in all forums, such as
documents from the follow-up separate taxation, generous childcare
 provisions and shared, gender-neutral
parental leave. The right to abortion,
•• The United Nations Security which was introduced in 1974, also
Council Resolution 1325 on helped to reinforce women’s rights.
women, peace and security, and The Swedish Gender Equality Act was
subsequent resolutions. 
 introduced in 1979 to create an equal
labour market that is free from discri-
•• The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable mination. Alongside these initiatives,
Development and the agreements a progressive movement led by women
from the conferences on also emerged. Issues that had previously
financing for development. been seen as ‘women’s issues’ appeared
on the general agenda for Swedish
•• The EU action plan for gender domestic policy. Commissions were
equality and women’s empower- appointed which emphasised Sweden’s
ment in EU’s external relations overall gender equality objective:
(2016–2020). “Women and men shall have the same power to
shape society and their own lives.” 10

16 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Swedish gender research gathered Sweden regularly tops rankings of
pace and became an established the world’s gender equality – from the
academic discipline. European Institute for Gender Equality’s
(EIGE) ranking of gender equality in
Another key component in this the EU to the World Economic
systematic approach was the intro- Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap.
duction of gender mainstreaming as This demonstrates that Sweden’s policy
a working method. This was introduced has been successful in many ways when
in the 1990s, and has continued to it comes to promoting gender equality,
be developed and confirmed since but significant challenges still remain.
then.11 Gender mainstreaming involves
a gender equality perspective being
included in all policies that affect
people’s conditions, so that all women
and men, girls and boys can live
equal lives.12

Gender mainstreaming work has

intensified further in recent years.
This is illustrated, for example, by a
sharper focus on gender equality
within the central government budget.
The Government has also expanded
its Gender Mainstreaming in
Government Agencies (JiM)
programme to include almost 60
Swedish agencies. 13 On 1 January
2018, the Government established
the Swedish Gender Equality Agency
to contribute towards the effective,
structured and cohesive implemen-
tation of gender equality policy.14

11 Bill 1993/94:147
13 T
 he Gender Mainstreaming in Government Agencies initiative (‘Jämställdhetsintegrering i myndigheter’ in
Swedish, abbreviated to JiM) has its own website, and involves agencies including the Swedish International
Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA).
14 Dir. 2016:108

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 17

Feminist foreign policy – part The Government’s gender equality
of a bigger feminist structure policy takes as its starting point the
knowledge and understanding that
The Government Communication gender and power are created and
“Power, goals and agency – a feminist maintained structurally in all sections
policy for a gender-equal future” was of society. Gender is of fundamental
launched 2016. In this Communica- importance to people’s opportunities
tion, the Swedish Government and conditions, at individual, organi-
presented its focus for gender equality sational and societal levels, and at
policy, including an organisation for every stage of life. Sweden still
implementation, a monitoring system, features significant differences in
a ten-year national strategy for conditions for life between women
preventing and combating men’s and men. There are systematic
violence against women, and a new differences between women and men
structure for sub-goals. The starting when it comes to power and influence,
point for this work is as follows: education, work, position, income, pay
and careers, unpaid housework and
“Sweden has a feminist Government. caring, exposure to violence and
The Government’s gender equality health. The Government’s gender
policy is based on the overall objective equality policy therefore aims to
that women and men shall have the create justice between women and
same power to shape society and their men, girls and boys. The gender
own lives. Gender equality is a equality policy is also a central part
question of justice and an important of the work to ensure full respect for
part of building society. Gender Sweden’s international human rights
equality also contributes towards undertakings. Sweden shall be a role
economic growth by making use of model for gender equality, both
the potential of both women and men. nationally and internationally.” 15

15 ” Makt, mål och myndighet – feministisk politik för en jämställd framtid” (“Power, goals and agency
– a feminist policy for a gender-equal future”), Government Communication 2016/17:10
16 w
19 See e.g.

18 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

2.3 Objective areas for Sweden’s These are individual objectives, but
feminist foreign policy they also contribute to the same overall
objective: a gender equal world. The
objectives are also mutually reinforcing
Sweden’s feminist foreign policy shall and are dependent on each other. By
contribute to gender equality and all improving women’s and girls’ access to
women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive rights, positive
human rights. In order to implement changes can for example be observed in
this, the Swedish Foreign Service has women’s economic empowerment.17
drawn up an action plan that is updated Research also shows that an increase in
annually, with six long-term external women’s political participation and
objectives.16 having more women in decision-ma-
king positions leads to more progressi-
ve social reforms.18 Another example is
that stronger legislation for women’s
The six external objectives rights leads to increased participation
in the 2015 –2018 action plan. for women in society. 19 The objectives
The Swedish Foreign have intentionally been set at a high
Service shall contribute to level in order to enable several policy
areas and tools to contribute to them
all women’s and girls’:
with their combined strength. This has
1. Full enjoyment of human rights also made it possible to use focus areas
2. Freedom from physical, psycho- that have helped to highlight challenges
logical and sexual violence within the wider objective areas.
3. Participation in preventing and
resolving conflicts, and post-conflict
Since 2017, the action plan also includes
a seventh objective involving the
Swedish Foreign Service’s internal work
4. Political participation and influence
supporting and manifesting the
in all areas of society
implementation of the policy. This
5. Economic rights and empowerment work is described in chapter three,
6. Sexual and reproductive health while the work relating to the six
and rights (SRHR) external objectives is described below.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 19

2.3.1 Full enjoyment of human rights •• Championed the inclusion of sexual
The Swedish Foreign Service shall reproductive health and reproductive
work for all women’s and girls’ full rights in the General Assembly’s
enjoyment of human rights in its resolution on child, early and forced
multilateral, regional and bilateral marriage.
work, and within and through the EU.
Discrimination against women and •• Worked to strengthen the enjoyment
girls affects, among other things, their of human rights of migrant and
rights to education, work, security, refugee women and girls.
political participation, family life and
control over their own bodies. Gender •• Undertaken concrete measures for
discrimination is also reinforced by integrating a gender equality perspec-
discrimination and vulnerability linked tive and measures against sexual and
to other factors such as poverty, gender-related violence into humani-
conflict, migration, climate effects, tarian efforts and the Humanitarian
ethnic origin, functional variation and Reform process.
sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sweden uses a number of different

platforms, roles and tools in this work.
This is done, for example, by regularly
publishing country reports on human
rights, democracy and the rule of law,
and by supporting the work carried
out by civil society for women and girls.
Sweden has also continued to sharpen
the gender equality focus of its
development cooperation, including
via a new global strategy. Sweden has
for example:

20 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Sweden’s main message:
•• The nations of the world have
undertaken in legally binding
conventions to respect, defend and
fulfil all people’s human rights,
without any discrimination. 

•• Those countries that have not yet
ratified the human rights conven-
tions should consider doing so. 

•• Those countries that have made
reservations infringing women’s
and girls’ rights should repeal these,
as they contravene the purposes
and intentions of the conventions.
•• Religion, culture, customs or
traditions can never legitimise
infringements of women’s and girls’
human rights. 

•• The declaration and the action
plan from the UN’s fourth World
Conference on Women in Beijing
in 1995 constitute political under-
takings to strengthen women’s
rights and living conditions.
All countries should put the plan
into action, including through

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 21

2.3.2 Freedom from physical, women have been subjected to physical
psychological and sexual violence or sexual violence by a partner and/or
Freedom from violence is a prerequisite sexual violence by someone other than
for development. Domestic violence, a partner. WHO also estimates that
where the partner is the perpetrator, is 30–60 per cent of all women have been
the leading cause of injuries to women. subjected to physical and/or sexual
125 countries have legislated against attacks at some point in their lives.21
domestic violence, but 603 million In 2014, the European Institute for
women live in countries where domes- Gender Equality (EIGE) published
tic violence is not punishable.20 In all an estimate of what gender-related
countries, women and girls run the risk violence costs countries in the EU
of being exposed to gender-related or annually, reaching a figure of EUR
sexual violence or harassment in public 256bn, 87 per cent of which can be
spaces, which seriously limits their attributed to men’s violence against
freedom of movement. In the same women.22
way, women’s opportunities for
influence and political participation Among other initiatives, Sweden has
are limited by the harassment directed worked to raise awareness of and
towards women who are active in counteract destructive masculinity
public forums, such as politicians, norms, strengthen countries’ ability to
human rights campaigners and journa- bring proceedings against perpetrators,
lists. All forms of violence against assist victims of crimes and rehabilitate
women and girls affect both the soldiers. Sweden has also contributed to
individual and society at large, and are better knowledge on the link between
a barrier to gender equality and deve- the uncontrolled spread of weapons
lopment. In many conflicts, women and violence against women, and has
and girls are direct targets of sexualised contributed to several actors having
and gender-related violence. The joined the work against gender-
perpetrators are rarely punished. related violence in crises, carrying
out more than 300 measures in total.
Gender-related violence occurs in all Sweden has for example:
societies and countries, regardless of
levels of income or education. The
World Health Organization (WHO)
estimates that more than one in three

22 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

•• Supported organisations within
civil society and other actors Sweden’s main message:
working with gender-based
•• All people have a right to bodily
violence, including through support
integrity and freedom from
centres, helplines and legal support
violence. All forms of violence are
for vulnerable women, as well as
serious attacks against human
working with perpetrators and
rights and must be prevented and
political influence.
punished, both in times of peace
and in times of conflict. 

•• Been the largest donor to UN
•• Influencing negative and stereo-
Women and UN Action Against
typical masculinity norms is
Sexual Violence in Conflict.
important, as is changing attitudes
and behaviours among men and
•• Carried out extensive work
boys who represent and act based
to highlight the link between
on such norms.
destructive masculinity norms,
•• Violence prevents women and
violence and conflict.
girls from enjoying human rights,
benefiting from education and
becoming social actors. 

•• Sweden works to strengthen
accountability and to combat
impunity for violence against
women and girls. 

•• Gender-based violence involves
an enormous amount of suffering
for those affected. It also has
considerable negative socio-
economic consequences.

20 UNWOMEN, “Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice”

22 e

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 23

2.3.3 Participation in preventing and perspective and thereby being able
resolving conflicts, and post-conflict to serve as a model for others.
In countries affected by conflict, •• Supported Syrian women’s involve-
women work for peace every day, ment in political processes at local
with good results but often with little and international levels, and the
recognition. Studies indicate that opposition’s Women’s Advisory
inclusive peace processes are the most Committee (WAC).
sustainable, but formal and inter-
national peace work remain unequal. •• Contributed to other countries
drawing up and implementing
Sweden has contributed to increased national action plans for women,
involvement of women in peace peace and security, including
processes in Latin America as well as in in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herze-
Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and govina, Iraq, Canada, Myanmar,
has both established and encouraged the Czech Republic and Sudan.
networks of women mediators. Sweden
has also made the women, peace and
security agenda (UN Security Council
Resolution 1325 and subsequent
resolutions) a main priority for its
time on the UN Security Council,
championed the work in the EU and
adopted a national action plan for
Sweden’s implementation of the
agenda. Sweden has also for example:

•• Contributed to increased involve-

ment of women in peace efforts in
countries such as Colombia, Mali,
Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar and
Somalia through political, technical
and financial support. Sweden’s work
has, among other things, contributed
to Colombia’s peace agreement
featuring a clear gender equality

24 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

2.3.4 Political participation and
Sweden’s main message: influence in all areas of society
The world’s women are under-
•• Inclusive peace processes offer
represented on many levels – as voters,
opportunities for more possibilities
as politicians, as judges, as leaders in
in finding solutions, win better
organisations, in industry and in
support and are more sustainable.
academia. More equal representation
Women’s involvement in peace
benefits both society and individuals.
processes and peacebuilding must
Research shows, for example, that more

equal decision-making bodies are more
•• The mandate and work of interna-
active on gender equality issues, and
tional peace initiatives must take
their agenda and resource allocation
into consideration the needs and
reflect more groups and needs within
perspectives of men, women, boys
society. 23
and girls in order to succeed. 

•• Conflict-related sexual violence is Sweden has contributed to women’s
a war crime with serious conse-
political participation in several
quences for victims, relatives and
countries, has supported women
society as a whole. Victims of crime
human rights campaigners, and has
have a right to redress, and perpe-
carried out active advocacy activities in
trators must be held accountable. 

connection to freedom of speech and
•• Impunity for conflict-related sexual opinion. Sweden has also championed
violence makes reconciliation gender equality strategies in develop-
processes more difficult and
ment banks and environmental and
undermines peacebuilding. Only
climate funds, and has taken a leading
a zero-tolerance approach can be
role in the International Gender

Champions initiative in Geneva,
•• It is important to involve men and with particular responsibility for
boys in the work to prevent conflict representation issues. Sweden has also,
and to combat gender-related and for example:
sexual violence.


Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 25

•• Worked to strengthen protection for
women journalists, human rights Sweden’s main message:
campaigners, environmental cam-
•• Women and men shall have the
paigners, politicians and cultural
same opportunities to be active
workers, as well as those who defend
citizens and to shape the
women’s and girls’ enjoyment of
conditions for decision-making. 

human rights.
•• Women and men shall have the
•• Assisted and cooperated with same opportunities to participate
in – and influence – political
women’s organisations and other
processes and decisions within all
actors to highlight, support and
areas and at all levels. 

strengthen women human rights
defenders and others who •• Women’s organisations and
defend all women’s and girls’ women human rights defenders
full enjoyment of human rights. shall have the opportunity to work
and be protected against threats
and violence.
•• Contributed towards greater gender
equality in political parties in •• It is important to address the
developing countries through underlying causes of women’s
cooperation with Swedish party under-representation in political
affiliated organisations. processes and bodies, such as
women’s traditional main responsi-
bility for unpaid housework and
•• Changes occur where power
exists. Increasing the proportion
of women in the world’s parlia-
ments and in leading positions is

26 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

2.3.5 Economic rights and •• Contributed to an enhanced gender
empowerment equality perspective in the work of
When women participate in the labour international organisations within
market their economic empowerment the field of trade policy, for example
increases, and a society’s economic in negotiations, statistics and
growth increases. Society also develops, analysis, and contributed to the
since women, more than men, invest EU driving these issues forward in
their income in local society and in bodies such as the World Trade
children’s health and education. It is Organization (WTO) and negotia-
therefore not only right but also socially tions on the EU’s free trade agre-
smart to invest in women’s economic ement with third countries.
empowerment. Despite this, many
women lack economic rights and thus •• Contributed to gender equality
the opportunity to inherit, own and use aspects having been made visible in
land and natural resources, be in paid corporate social responsibility (CSR)
employment and get access to informa- efforts. This has been achieved
tion and communication technology, through, for example, intensified
financial services and effective markets. bilateral work with the aim of
Sweden has contributed to girls’ strengthening women’s roles and
education and women’s employment, rights within the labour market in
has been a driving force behind a countries such as Iran, Cambodia,
gender equality perspective in the Croatia, Nigeria, Poland and Turkey.
agreements on the Global Goals and on This work has often taken place in
financing for development, and has cooperation with Swedish compa-
championed gender equality work nies, trade unions and agencies.
within trade policy and sustainable •• Supported the Organisation for
enterprise. In addition, Sweden has Economic Co-operation and
highlighted men’s responsibility for Development’s (OECD) Middle
gender equality work through initiati- East and North Africa programme,
ves such as the He for She campaign. which has focused on enterprise with
Sweden has also, for example: gender equality awareness and has
•• Contributed to central recommenda- contributed to the establishment of a
tions from leading economic forums, Women’s Economic Empowerment
such as the International Monetary Forum to improve women’s econo-
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, mic opportunities in the region.
emphasising the importance of
including growth and women’s
participation in the labour market.
Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 27
2.3.6 Sexual and reproductive
Sweden’s main message: health and rights (SRHR)
Sexual and reproductive health and
•• Women’s and girls’ inheritance,
rights (SRHR) are human rights, and
ownership and usage rights and
are essential to women’s and girls’
their access to financial services
health and living conditions. SRHR
must be strengthened. 

involves every individual’s obvious
•• Everyone should have the same right to decide over their own body,
right to good quality education. 
 but also has a direct bearing on
•• Women and men should have everything from level of education
equal rights to work with good to social economics. Despite this,
and fair working conditions, to SRHR remains a controversial subject
form trade unions, to run compa- in many parts of the world.
nies and to have access to markets. 

•• Women and men should have the Sweden has stepped up its SRHR work
opportunity to combine family life as the resistance to these issues has
and gainful employment. Unpaid grown. Sweden works, among other
housework and caring must be things, through alliance building,
shared equally between women board positions, development coopera-
and men. 
 tion and dialogue, including by initia-
•• Women’s poverty is largely due ting the global #SheDecides move-
to a lack of access to economic ment. At country level, this work has,
resources. for example, contributed to more
•• Women’s participation in the labour midwives and better access to sex and
market and access to markets for relationship education, contraception
trading lead to stronger economic and safe abortions. Sweden has also:
growth and higher GNP per capita.
•• Provided UNFPA with extensive
core support, which during
2014–2015 has made it possible
to prevent more than 600 000
unplanned pregnancies, 200 000
unsafe abortions and 900 cases of
maternal mortality, and to provide
more than 1.6 million people with

28 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

•• Put pressure on the European
Commission to forcefully stand Sweden’s main message:
up for SRHR and to include SRHR
•• Sexual and reproductive health
in its annual reporting on the
and rights are human rights, and
implementation of the EU action
are necessary for women’s and
plan for gender equality and women’s
girls’ enjoyment of other rights,
empowerment in the EU’s external
and for gender equality and
relations (2016–2020).

•• It is essential to invest in maternal
•• Contributed to thousands of people
health, with the right and access
having received midwife training
to safe and legal abortions, in
each year, leading to millions of
order to reduce maternal mortality
women having been able to give
and to satisfy the right to the best
birth with the support of trained
possible health. 

personnel. For example, Sweden
has financed midwife training in •• Access to contraception and sex
education for young people and
Afghanistan, Myanmar, South
adults benefit gender equality and
Sudan and Zambia.
counteract sexual violence,
involuntary pregnancies, abortions
and sexually transmitted diseases.
Men and boys need to be involved
in order to change attitudes. 

•• Preventing and treating HIV is also
part of Sweden’s work for gender
equality and human rights. 

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 29

3. W
 orking methods within
the Swedish Foreign Service

30 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The Swedish Foreign Service has 3.1 Leadership
extensive experience of working with
gender equality issues. The internal
work has focused on issues such as Leadership for the policy is clear at
staffing policy, control and operational the highest level, but is also mainstrea-
support, and the organisation strives med throughout all other parts of the
to be at the cutting edge in the field. organisation. Everyone in the Swedish
The level of ambition has been raised Foreign Service is responsible for
further with the feminist foreign policy, systematic work with the feminist
contributing to increased systematic foreign policy – within operations
guidance, and to more initiatives within and in the workplace. Several Swedish
various subsidiary areas, including in missions abroad confirm that the
work relating to premises and security. distinct management from the top of
the system has been essential.
Some of the working methods and
actions related to the internal objective This clear leadership has included:
of the action plan are described below.
These methods continue to be refined, •• Continuous references to the policy
to ensure that the organisation is able in speeches, articles, social media
to implement the policy effectively in posts, etc.
varying environments, and in an
ever-changing world. However, four •• Clearly prioritising these issues
components have remained and have during visits, trips, contacts, etc.
proven to be decisive for the policy’s
impact both within and beyond the •• Repeated messages to the Swedish
Swedish Foreign Service. Foreign Service’s management and
regional meetings.

•• Frequent assignments to the Foreign

Service on delivering messages
and proposals.

•• Concrete decisions and initiatives.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 31

”In pursuing foreign policy, it is
reassuring with a solid ideological
foundation for gender equality at
home, as well as the full support
of the political leadership. This has
provided us with sharper tools for
pursuing gender equality issues in
various forms for dialogue.”
Swedish embassy

24 T he Statement of Government Policy on Foreign Affairs at the 2015 foreign policy debate in the Riksdag
(Swedish Parliament) on Wednesday 11 February 2015

32 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The political leadership has been clear Gender Equality and Coordinator of
right from the start, and has since been Feminist Foreign Policy early on, to
followed up by repeated messages support the work involved and to give
about the feminist foreign policy in, this work a clear priority.
for example, articles, speeches and
Statements of Government Policy on This strong leadership has contributed
Foreign Affairs (see examples in the significantly to the work with the
info box below). The Government also perspective and to the policy having a
appointed a Swedish Ambassador for firm foothold within the organisation.

The Statement of Government 1325. […] We will also continue our

Policy on Foreign Affairs 201524 efforts to combat impunity for
gender-based violence, which is
”A feminist foreign policy is now necessary both in times of peace and
being formulated, the purpose of in connection with armed conflicts.
which is to combat discrimination
against women, improve conditions UN Member States should advance
for women and contribute to peace efforts for the human rights of
and development. Women’s partici- women and girls, their right to
pation in decision-making must be economic empowerment and their
strengthened in countries at peace, right to control their own bodies.
countries in conflict and countries in It is particularly important this year,
which reconstruction is under way. when the international community is
This will also strengthen the sustai- to affirm the commitments concer-
nability of our societies. ning women’s conditions that were
made in Beijing in 1995. These
Concrete steps to promote the status conditions must be improved
and rights of women are also being – not undermined. A feminist foreign
taken through increased cooperation policy will be an integral part of
with civil society and with our activities throughout the Swedish
partners in the EU and the UN. Foreign Service, and aims to
Together with our Nordic EU friends, strengthen women’s rights, improve
we have proposed appointing an EU women’s access to resources and
representative for gender equality and increase women’s representation.
the implementation of Resolution

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 33

3.2 Ownership

The feminist foreign policy was initially development, planning and monitoring
launched top-down, but has since been of the policy.
developed in consultation with the
entire Swedish Foreign Service. Many There is also ongoing consultations on
departments and missions abroad the policy with various sections of
emphasise how important this working society in accordance with the action
method has been for the ownership of plan for the feminist foreign policy.
the policy and for the Swedish Foreign This applies to civil society, academia
Service as an organisation. and industry, among others, so that
these actors can contribute with
All departments within the Swedish knowledge and approaches from their
Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ – func- respective areas. These consultations
tional, geographic and administrative take place at both national and inter-
departments, as well as Sweden’s national levels.
missions around the world – were asked
early on to share their views on how
Sweden’s feminist foreign policy can
be implemented within all the Swedish
Foreign Service’s policy areas and
operational areas.

Almost one hundred responses were

received, providing a long list of ideas
that formed the basis for the Swedish
Foreign Service’s initial action plan for
the feminist foreign policy. The process
also contributed to more integrated
discussions about gender equality
between areas of policy and responsi-
bility, and to more involvement in
gender equality work of various
sections and staff. This inclusive
method has continued in the further

34 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

What have been
the success factors in
the implementation of
the feminist foreign policy?
•• Clear leadership
•• Participation and co-creation
•• Priority
•• Support with tools, skills develop-
ment, advice, etc.
•• Focal points at departments and

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 35

3.3 Guidance The Foreign Service´s operational
planning process has also been
reviewed, to ensure that the feminist
One important factor in the implemen- foreign policy is included in the regular
tation of the feminist foreign policy is annual operational dialogues. This
that gender equality issues are integra- means that every department and
ted into ordinary systems, processes mission abroad must explain how the
and responsibility structures. This feminist foreign policy is carried out or
means that a gender equality perspec- has been carried out during the year. In
tive is incorporated into ongoing the review of the operational planning
operations, and cannot be portrayed or process for 2017, there were 502
perceived as a parallel process. operational targets relating to the
objective of a more gender equal world.
In the work with guidance, planning This is a significant increase compared
and monitoring gender main- with previous years.
streaming has been strengthened.
The action plan for the feminist foreign The Swedish Foreign Service has also
policy is included in the Swedish carried out continuous work with
Foreign Service’s operational plan. This gender mainstreaming of budgeting.
means that the objectives in the action As part of this, the Ministry for Foreign
plan are integrated in the Foreign Affairs has clarified the guidelines for
Service planning processes and that its grant management, ensured that its
they are monitored by all Foreign mandatory grant management training
Service managers, within ordinary teaches gender mainstreaming, and
processes and on an annual basis. ensured that employees have been able
to take part in the Government Offices’
In line with the feminist foreign policy, training on this theme. An ongoing
the rules of procedure of the Ministry review of internal regulations, tem-
for Foreign Affairs clarify that all plates, procedures and checklists is
managers have a responsibility for being carried out to ensure that they
integrating a gender equality pers- include a gender equality perspective.
pective in their areas’ responsibility,
including in decision-making and Gender budgeting shall be carried
resource allocation processes. 25 out within all governmental policy
areas, including foreign policy. This
means that prioritisations, choices and

36 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

resource allocation in the budget shall group, Friends of Gender Equality,
promote gender equality as far as within the OECD. This group meets
possible. The Government Offices regularly, discussing topics such as
supports this work using the JämKAS gender budgeting and the importance
Budget analytical tool. ‘JämKAS’ is an of gathering and analysing sex-disag-
abbreviation of the Swedish ‘jämställd- gregated data.
het, kartläggning och analys’, meaning
‘gender equality, mapping and analysis’.26
Gender budgeting includes using
sex-disaggregated data according to
the guidelines from Statistics Sweden.27
Sweden has formed a gender equality

Info box: JämKAS Budget

JämKAS Budget is an analytical tool that can be used as a means of support
when including a gender equality perspective in a budget and for carrying out
gender equality analyses of proposals. The analysis involves a number of
different steps/questions.
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5
Is gender In what way What con- Which gender Which
equality is gender clusions can patterns alternative
relevant to equality be drawn in emerge, and proposals are
the proposal? relevant to connection what signi- there that
the proposal? with women’s ficance does can promote
and men’s, the proposal gender
girls’ and boys’ have for equality more?
conditions gender
and circum- equality?
stances in
the proposal?

25 The Government Offices’ regulations and rules of procedure for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2017)
26 T
 he Swedish Ministry of Finance, JämKAS Budget
27 S
 tatistics Sweden (2004), “Könsuppdelad statistik. Ett nödvändigt medel för jämställdhetsanalys”
(“Statistics by sex. A necessary tool for gender analysis”)

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 37

The action plan for the feminist foreign gregated data in reporting and ongoing
policy is a comprehensive guidance operations. As part of this work, the
instrument that contains chapters about Swedish Foreign Service shall request
both actors and tools that are relevant this type of data, if it is missing, from
to the ongoing work with the policy. bilateral and multilateral actors, and
In line with this guidance, the Swedish from civil society organisations. The
Foreign Service shall in its analytical Swedish Foreign Service shall, alongsi-
work take into account how its opera- de collecting quantitative data, also take
tions can contribute towards greater into account and request qualitative
gender equality and the strengthening information from multilateral, bilateral
all women’s and girls’ full enjoyment and other sources – such as local
of human rights. This can be achieved women’s organisations – who often
through, for example, using gender have valuable knowledge about and
equality analyses when projects, action access to women and girls in the
plans and strategies are formulated. context in question.
These analyses should have an intersec-
tional perspective and should take into
account the fact that women and girls,
men and boys are not homogeneous
groups but have different identities,
needs, influence and living conditions.
Analyses therefore need to consider
factors other than gender, such as age,
geographic domicile, socioeconomic
status, gender identity and gender
expression, sexual orientation, ethnic
origin, functional variation, level of
education, declarations of faith and
religion. The Swedish Foreign Service
shall also make use of gender equality
analyses based on sex- and age-disag-

28 T he latest action plan is available at:


38 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

3.4 Support
Checklist for gender equality
analysis in reporting:
The Swedish Foreign Service’s work
•• Ensure that the reporting illustrates with the feminist foreign policy is
gender equality aspects and supported by a coordination team led
the theme, for example voter by the Ambassador for Gender Equality
participation, from a gender equality
and Coordinator of Feminist Foreign
perspective as a corner-stone of
Policy. The coordination team works
democracy, or gender-related
with areas such as policy development,
violence as a threat to security.
operational planning, communication,
•• Clarify the rights, opportunities skills development and representation.
and needs of women, girls, boys All employees of the Swedish Foreign
and men in the context. 
 Service can contact the coordination
•• Use sex- and age-disaggregated team, but they can also contact the
 focal point(s) for the feminist foreign
•• Use an intersectional perspective policy appointed at every department
that clarifies the fact that women and mission abroad. These focal points
and girls, men and boys have receive continuous support and
different identities, needs, influence information from the coordination
and living conditions. team. The coordination team for the
•• Consult people, groups and/or feminist foreign policy is also in regular
organisations that work with gender contact with the Division for Gender
equality. Equality at the Swedish Ministry
of Health and Social Affairs. This
Division supports and coordinates
gender equality work within all govern-
mental policy areas. This cross-ministry
cooperation helps to ensure that
methods and information are dissemi-
nated quickly within the Government

The coordination team draws up the

Swedish Foreign Service’s annual

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 39

action plan for the feminist foreign
policy, in cooperation with other The Gender Coach program-
sections of the Swedish Foreign me – how it works
Service, and in dialogue with other
parts of the Government Offices and The programme is aimed at senior
other agencies, representatives from managers within the Swedish
civil society, etc. (For more information Foreign Service and gives them
about the plan, see point 4.3.3.) the opportunity to improve their
knowledge of gender equality and
The coordination team has produced a women’s and girls’ rights, including
digital theme website on the feminist based on the UN’s security
foreign policy, where all employees resolutions on women, peace and
can access fact sheets, brochures, security. The programme includes
speeches, articles, good examples, joint seminars for the whole group
PowerPoint presentations and other of participants, but all participants
materials. Certain missions abroad have also have their own personal
also produced information sheets on coaches to help with the concrete
the feminist foreign policy, translated and direct application of gender
into local languages. mainstreaming within their
respective areas of operation.
The theme website links to internal
e-training devised by the coordina-
tion team, which has been translated
into English so that locally employed
staff can access the information. In
addition, several embassies and depart-
ments have carried out their own
in-depth studies and training, and/or
have developed knowledge bases in the
form of gender equality libraries.
Certain managers participate in a
special Gender Coach -programme
that focuses on methods and tools for
leadership in gender equality work.

40 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

”A s civil servants within the Swedish Just over two years after the launch of
Foreign Service, carrying out the the feminist foreign policy, the coordi-
feminist foreign policy, it is essential nation team initiated a monitoring
to do so in a workplace that is as process. This process involved depart-
ments and missions abroad and resulted
gender equal as possible. The
in a collection of examples with
Gender Coach programme gave me
actions and results within the seven
the knowledge and the tools – objectives of the feminist foreign
and thus also the self-confidence policy from the action plan. This
– needed to take our internal gender collection of examples has come to
equality work up a gear together provide additional support and inspira-
with my management team. The tion in the work with the policy:
programme made me see how
important it is to focus on the work
processes that we can actually
control, and to find concrete ways pel-pa-tre-ars-genomforande/
to integrate gender equality aspects
into these. The results far exceeded
our expectations. While we have
long worked with gender equality
within staffing, we identified a
number of other processes – within
areas such as guidance, security,
premises and interiour design
– where we could benefit from
reinforcing the gender equality
The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs’
Director-General for
Administrative Affairs Håkan Åkesson

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 41

Three questions for Ann Bernes
through. Linked to this, another
Sweden’s Ambassador for Gender realisation was to witness the
Equality and Coordinator of Feminist fantastic creativity and inspiration
Foreign Policy that have appeared throughout the
Swedish Foreign Service.
1. Which methods
have proven to be 3. What was the first challenge
the most impor- in this work?
tant in the work Being able to provide enough
involved with the support. The fact that all colleagues
policy? learn more about gender equality
The ‘feminist doesn’t make the need for support
foreign policy’ any less. Instead, the issues become
concept is an unbeatable method. You more numerous and increasingly
only have to say the words to arouse advanced, while the need for moni-
interest and show what Sweden stands toring and overview grows. It’s clear
for. The four Rs are also an important that integration processes of this
tool, since they are comprehensive magnitude need support functions
while also being comprehensible and that can live up to the work.
easy to communicate. The inclusive
co-creative process has also proven
to be decisive. All employees were
able to contribute, so the work has
had great momentum behind it.

2. What has been your biggest

moment of realisation as coordinator?
That change is possible, even when
you don’t believe it is. It’s simply a
matter of finding the arguments or
other expressions that will get

42 Metodbok Sveriges feministiska utrikespolitik

3.5 Examples of internal work During 2018, a specific two-year
investment was decided on to further
strengthen consular support within
family conflict, with a particular focus
All sections of the Swedish Foreign on child and forced marriage. This
Service shall establish a gender equality SEK 10mn investment has enabled
perspective within their field of significant information, education and
operations, in accordance with the cooperation initiatives to be carried
feminist foreign policy. out in this area.
In line with this, the gender equality Within the framework of the Swedish
perspective permeates for example Foreign Service’s operational support,
consular work, particularly with the feminist foreign policy has involved
regard to issues relating to women, developing the gender equality perspec-
children and young adults. Swedish tive on premises. In line with this, the
embassies and consulates are contacted Swedish Foreign Service has reviewed
increasingly often by people in need the guidance for choosing management
who are resident in Sweden, but who accommodation, which now establishes
have been victims of family-related that such premises should be functional
violence while travelling abroad, often and welcoming for all employees and
in connection with being prevented guests. In certain locations, for ex-
from returning to Sweden. Those who ample, the choice of management
are affected risk being subjected to accommodation may be decisive for the
forced marriage or female genital possibilities for women not having to
mutilation, experiencing threats, coerci- follow local clothing customs in and at
on or violence from their families, or this accommodation. In the same way,
being forced to stay abroad against their inclusive management accommodation
will. This group of people in need, who may allow women and LGBTQ
are overwhelmingly women and girls, persons to participate in events where
are prioritised from a consular point of other premises in certain locations
view because their situation makes the involve difficulties or risks. The
usual precautions, assistance with Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
self-help, etc. impossible. has also worked with Sweden’s National
Public Art Council to ensure that works
Since 2015, continuous strategic of art in management accommodation
work has been carried out to develop and in offices include works by both
the Swedish Foreign Service’s consular women and men.
tools and expertise for supporting
particularly vulnerable groups.
Metodbok Sveriges feministiska utrikespolitik 43
Gender equality and premises – how does it work?
•• Is there anything in the design of the working environment that could affect
women and men differently?
•• Is there anything in the design of the premises and in the working environment
that makes it harder for women to carry out certain duties than for men?
•• In the case of overseas postings, there may be cultural and other norms that
limit women’s freedom of movement. How can premises solutions improve
the situation for those who find themselves on such postings?
•• Both women and men should be able to feel comfortable at the Swedish Foreign
Service’s premises. Are there any actions that can be taken to ensure this?
•• Professions and work duties often follow gender roles. Is this evident in
connection with premises-related work at the workplace? If so, what can be
done to change this?
•• How many female and male artists are represented in the artworks in the

Within the field of security the through its clear gender equality
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs message. The Swedish Ministry for
has initiated a certification programme Foreign Affairs has ensured, among
for security companies working in other things, that companies have a
conflict environments. This certifica- number of gender equality tools when
tion – from the International Code of carrying out their inspection visits, that
Conduct Association (ICoCA) – emp- they engage in dialogue with women’s
hasises how private security companies organisations and that they work to
are expected to act in conflict areas, counter sexual harassment and assaults.
particularly with regard to human
rights and international humanitarian The Swedish Ministry for Foreign
law. The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has also worked to review,
Affairs requires that security com- highlight and enhance personal safety
panies included in their procurement for women employees on the basis of
processes must be ICoCA-certified. a consultation with missions abroad
This certification is in line with around the world. Other actions
Sweden’s feminist foreign policy include reviewing the gender distribu-

44 Metodbok Sveriges feministiska utrikespolitik

tion of the security guards sent out and by monitoring and reviewing salary
to impose demands on procured developments on an ongoing basis.
security companies to have a gender Work has been initiated to increase the
mainstreaming policy. The Swedish number of women honorary consuls
Foreign Service has also highlighted and trade commissioners, and to review
the gender equality perspective in which locally employed personnel carry
multilateral consultation on the out which duties, in order to identify
monitoring of the global codes of and break gender stereotypical patterns.
conduct for private security companies.

Within the field of staffing, the

Gender distribution of Swedish
Swedish Foreign Service is working ambassadors, 1996–201629
to strengthen the gender equality
perspective further. This involves %
initiating a review of the entire chain,
from recruitment and leadership
programmes to the process for appoin-
ting managers. Specific measures are
being carried out to increase the
90 % 72 % 60 %
number of women applicants for
management positions, including
ambassador roles. The proportion of 40 %
women managers has also increased, 28 %
and is now 50 per cent (counting all 10 %
management positions). Forty per cent 1996 2006 2016

of all ambassador positions are held

by women (see the diagram). Partici- Men Women
pants in the Swedish Ministry
for Foreign Affairs’ regular admission
programme (the Diplomat Programme)
have gone from being 20 per cent
women in 1972 to 47 per cent women
in 2016. The Swedish Foreign Service
also works to combat irrelevant salary
differences between women and men
29 Statistics from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 45

Three questions for the Swedish 2. Which tools do you use in your work?
Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Human Internal training now includes a
Resources Department 30 gender equality perspective. For
example, the feminist foreign policy
is included in the ministry’s admission
1. What has the work to strengthen and administrator programmes, and
the role of women in decision-making in the training for new managers at
positions involved? missions abroad. E-training on the
The feminist foreign policy is an feminist foreign policy is available to
agenda for change and part of the all staff. Internal leadership training
Government’s work for gender targeted at both women and men has
equality. It’s also an attitude, and a helped to increase the number of
lens through which we look at our women managers. A gender equality
human resources work and seek to analysis is carried out on recruitment
contribute to securing women’s to the ministry’s training and le-
representation and resources in the adership programme. Today, women
Swedish Foreign Service. The Swedish are in the majority in lower manage-
Ministry for Foreign Affairs has ment positions. This promises
worked strategically to increase the good future opportunities for
number of women applying for achieving a full gender balance in
management positions. The reasons higher positions.
why women have sometimes not
applied for management positions 3. Describe a specific challenge in
have been investigated and analysed. terms of further enhancing the gender
Good role models have been high- equality perspective for staffing issues
lighted. Internal development within the Swedish Foreign Service.
programmes for potential managers There’s an imbalance between
have contributed towards having women and men in administrative
more women managers. positions in the Swedish Foreign
Service. Work is being carried out
within recruitment to address this.

30 Per Augustsson, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Human Resources Department

46 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Summary of methods for work within the Swedish Foreign Service:

1. Leadership

•• Clear, open, consistent, “everywhere, all the time”

•• Integrated into the Statement of Government Policy on Foreign Affairs
•• Regularly raised in speeches, articles and tweets
•• Targeted decisions and initiatives

2. Ownership

•• Inclusive co-creation process for the feminist foreign policy

•• Focal points at every department and mission abroad
•• Managers are responsible for a gender equality perspective being integrated into
all operations, including in decision-making and resource allocation processes

3. Guidance

•• Clarified distribution of responsibility for gender equality in the rules of procedure

•• Integration of the action plan for feminist foreign policy in ordinary monitoring of
objectives and results
•• Stronger gender mainstreaming, including in the form of gender budgeting
•• Regular gender equality analyses

4. Support

•• Theme page on the intranet

•• Collection of examples for the first three years with the feminist foreign policy
•• Fact sheets and other information materials
•• Ambassador for Gender Equality and Coordinator of Feminist Foreign Policy
•• E-training for all Swedish Foreign Service staff

5. Examples of methodical work:

•• Gender equality aspects in consular issues

•• Operational support (e.g. security and premises) with a gender equality
perspective Innovative staffing policy for greater representation of women

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 47

3.6 Voices on feminist foreign ”…The most interesting and
policy potentially most innovative
thing about a feminist foreign
When Sweden’s feminist foreign policy policy is not specific initiatives,
was launched, it was met with both efforts and programmes, but
praise and scepticism. As the policy has that it has potential as a new
been implemented, support has
continued to grow and much of the approach to contribute to a
former doubt has given way to interest. changed view of what foreign
security actually is and who
There is an extensive interest in the
it is for.” 32
policy from various sections of society,
Professor Robert Egnell,
and this interest is also reflected in the the Swedish Defence University.
fields of research. The Ministry for
Foreign Affairs has received many
questions from researchers and stu-
dents alike, who have produced articles,
studies and theses about the Swedish

31 A few examples of interest from the world of research:
32 Feministisk utrikespolitik i teori och praktik (“Feminist Foreign Policy in Theory and Practice”), Robert Egnell,

48 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

There is also great interest from both ”It is important, and historic,
Swedish and international media, and that we have a prime minister
in general the feminist foreign policy
and a government proud to
arouses both curiosity and debate. 33
proclaim ourselves feminists.
“The phrase ‘feminist foreign Women’s rights are human
policy’ got caught in my mind, rights. That includes sexual
based on what Sweden is reproductive rights and the
doing.” 34 right to safe and accessible
Founder of the Feminist Foreign Policy blog abortions. These rights are at
Marissa Conway
the core of our foreign policy.” 35
The concept of feminist foreign policy
Canada’s Minister of Foreign
is discussed and used by both organisa- Affairs Chrystia Freeland
tions and countries. One example is
Canada which has a stated feminist
government, uses the term ‘feminist
foreign policy’ and, in June 2017,
launched a feminist development policy
following consultations involving more
than 15 000 people in 65 different

33 Examples of media interest:

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 49

Swedish Foreign Service staff testify The policy has also involved an
to Sweden’s feminist foreign policy organisational and cultural shift within
helping to advance positions and the Swedish Foreign Service. The real
creating a valuable platform for driving force for many employees has
dialogue. The issue of gender equality been the inclusive process – pursuing
has become an issue for every member pioneering work, based on a clear
of staff, whatever their position or vision. The work has taken shape along
subject area and wherever in the world the way and is based on in-depth
they are based. internal discussions and reflections.
Several employees say that they are
”The fact that Sweden has gone proud to be able to drive forward and
from gender equality to femi- contribute to such a ground-breaking
policy as the feminist foreign policy.
nism is definitely something
The creative process has strengthened
new, and can successfully be the Swedish Foreign Service and
used exactly so in the work of laid the foundation for continued
the embassy. It has long been innovation.
well known that Sweden cham- ”This has been an incredible
pions gender equality issues, journey. What started as a 3 or
and we still do so – but now in 4 page document in October
the company of many other 2014 has evolved into a
like-minded nations. However, full-scale foreign policy, in
having a feminist foreign policy which we have jointly decided
clearly marks us out. With it, we on the content. The feminist
demonstrate an ability to see foreign policy has become our
bigger contexts, with political trademark.”
courage and a desire to lead. Swedish embassy
References to feminism in
The feminist foreign policy has also
politics deter some and inspire contributed to coherence between the
many, but it is clear that it different areas of foreign policy – fo-
attracts broad interest and reign and security policy, development
encourages important debate.” cooperation, and trade and promotion
policy – in new and clearer ways.
Swedish embassy
50 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy
”The feminist foreign policy The country’s brand has become even
has been significant in how we clearer and stronger: “Sweden is clearly
wearing the yellow jersey”.
have worked with the issue as
an integrated embassy, dealing ”The feminist foreign policy has
with all areas of foreign policy. also contributed to Sweden
The feminist foreign policy has being even more clearly seen
given us a joint underlying as ‘the country of gender
platform. In practice, it has equality’ – as a role model, as
meant that we have linked the first instance to turn to for
together our political, deve- the media’s international
lopment and promotional work comparisons or for civil socie-
more clearly. Our external com- ty organisations when seeking
munication is more distinct, information or making enquiri-
our political dialogue is more es about cooperation. […]
structured and focused on our Sweden has become the ‘go
message, and our dialogue to’ nation in terms of gender
with our partners in the field of equality for the media and the
development now has a broa- like. The demand for contact
der approach and with the embassy on the
a clearer political dimension. theme of gender equality has
The feminist foreign policy is risen, and is continuing to rise.
a source of inspiration for us, We also ensure that we reach
and gives us courage in our high-level representatives
dialogue with various actors.” (including the head of state)
Swedish embassy when working with these
Several missions abroad also note that issues.”
the policy has strengthened Sweden’s Swedish embassy
position as a champion of gender
equality and women’s and girls’ rights.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 51

4. Methods for norm change and

52 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The feminist foreign policy aims to Communication is of great importan-
create new approaches and contribute ce for a normative impact. The Swedish
to change. This requires methodical, Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Commu-
systematic work. It is a matter of nications Department and other
keeping our sights set on creating the relevant departments produce informa-
right conditions for a world where tion materials on a regular basis to
women and girls are heard more, are support the work on the feminist
given more space and can realise their foreign policy. Hashtags and other
visions. social media messages have proven to
be a successful way of reaching out,
In line with this, the Swedish Foreign even in countries with relatively little
Service works to promote gender internet access. Embassies arrange
equality issues and actors for change events including Twitter sessions on the
for gender equality and human rights theme of gender equality to communi-
at meetings, conferences or side cate with various target groups about
events. The Swedish Foreign Service gender equality and women’s rights.
continuously reviews the events, Another important platform is the
programmes of visits, delegations, website, where articles
panels and negotiation teams in which and blog posts about the feminist
it participates, to ensure that these foreign policy are among the most
contribute as far as possible to increa- commonly shared materials.
sed visibility of women, girls and
LGBTQ persons as actors and to make
use of all the available competence.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 53

The hashtag #Morewomenmorepeace
Under the hashtag which aims to strengthen the role of
#EqualityMakesSense the women in peacebuilding and peace
Swedish Foreign Service publishes negotiations, was launched to mark the
examples of how it works with 15th anniversary of UN Security
gender equality, spreads messages Council Resolution 1325 on women,
about the feminist foreign policy and peace and security, and has been used
shares information about articles and in a number of contexts since then. Set
events. Here is a selection of messa- occasions are when Swedish missions
ges from the campaign: abroad arrange events to raise aware-
ness of the resolution. Other occasions
•• “Women are an essential ingredi- include targeted initiatives to increase
ent in the recipe for lasting peace.” women’s participation in peace work,
such as when the Folke Bernadotte
•• “When women carry out profes- Academy (FBA) worked closely
sional work, economies grow. alongside the Swedish Embassy in
It’s that simple. It’s important to Kabul to train around 30 women from
include the under-used workforce different provinces in Afghanistan in
resource.” dialogue and mediation. The hashtag
has also been used in a series of articles
•• “Counteracting the systematic and about women peace actors, written and
global subordination of women is disseminated by the Swedish Ministry
a good thing in itself. However, for Foreign Affairs.
it’s also a smart practical policy.”
One of the targeted initiatives and
•• “Investing in women’s develop- hashtags that has had the greatest
ment reduces poverty. It builds impact #WikiGap. Wikipedia is the
societies, democracies and world’s biggest online and user-genera-
economies.” ted encyclopedia. The content that is
conveyed influences and colours users’
knowledge about the world. However,
there is a great imbalance. Ninety per
cent of the content has been created by
men, and there are four times more
articles about men than about women.
To help bring about change, the

54 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs –
in partnership with Wikimedia and a Tools for Wikigap work
number of local partners – launched an
initiative called #WikiGap to add •• The Wikigap toolbox can be
information about women to Wikipe- found at:
dia. The initiative began on Internatio- wikigap/
nal Women’s Day, on 8 March 2018,
and was carried out in the form of •• Wikigap film on You Tube:
parallel edit-a-thons in almost 50
countries, from Sweden to Indonesia, watch?v=NdPb4Bap3hk
Egypt and Colombia. More than 1 600
people took part, writing articles in •• Article about WikiGap in The
over 30 languages. During the first Economist: https://www.econo-
three months of the campaign alone,
participants wrote almost 4 000 new ness/21738402-together-wikime-
articles that were read over five millions dia-swedish-diplomats-are-hos-
times, and more articles are continuing ting-wikigap-edit-thons-54
to stream in. To support this initiative,
the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and
Wikimedia produced a toolbox contai-
ning a step-by-step guide to organising
#WikiGap events, including logos,
communication materials and sugges-
tions for those wishing to take the
project further. A special WikiGap
film has also been produced.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 55

Another method for norm changes and performed in several locations in the
mobilisation for gender equal values is country.37
cultural cooperation actions. One
successful example is the play Seven. Sweden has also emphasised the
The play consists of seven narratives by importance of leadership in its norm
women’s rights activists from Afghanis- change work. International Gender
tan, Guatemala, Cambodia, Nigeria, Champions was launched in 2015,
Northern Ireland, Pakistan and Russia. with Sweden among those spear-
The play has been performed in around heading the campaign, and the initiati-
30 different counties and in almost as ve brings together decision-makers who
many languages, and is always staged as have undertaken to challenge structu-
a collaboration involving local partners res and barriers to gender equality.
and the local Swedish Embassy. In The network was established in
every country, Seven is performed as Geneva, but has since grown to become
readings by seven known personalities a much broader network of more than
who represent different sections of 200 leaders from 60 countries and a
society, and who have strong integrity wide range of institutions including
and impact. The readings are usually public administration, the UN, the EU,
carried out by politicians, artists, sports academia and civil society. All members
personalities, journalists, musicians or have signed the IGC Panel Parity
individuals with their own experience Pledge, committing to no longer sit on
of vulnerability. Seven has successfully single-sex panels. Each member also
communicated issues relating to sets two gender equality objectives of
women’s rights and challenges to their own, involving anything from
decision-makers, opinion-formers and overall operational targets to their own
the general public. The attention in the leadership. The Nordic group has set
media has contributed to create interest the joint objective of promoting a
and has enabled local organisations to work-family life balance through: 1)
support politicians in pursuing wo- early information and advance notice
men’s rights issues. 2017 saw premières of meetings to enhance predictability
in Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzego- and planning, and 2) avoiding calling
vina, and in 2018 Seven – in part- meetings that will take place during
nership with the Swedish Embassy, UN evenings, weekends and public holi-
Women and the Permanent Represen- days. For more information about
tation of Sweden to the EU – has International Gender Champions, see:
become something of a viral phenome-
non in Pakistan with the play being 37

56 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The Swedish Foreign Service has also
Five questions to ask taken several initiatives to mobilise
in order to achieve more support for gender equality and all
gender equal panels38 women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of
human rights. Some of these initiatives
1. What do you do to ensure an even have covered the entire spectrum of
gender balance at the events you issues (such as the Stockholm Forum
organise? on Gender Equality below), while
2. What is the gender balance of the others have addressed subsidiary issues
panels on which you sit? (such as #midwives4all and SheDecides
3. Could there be cases where one below).
group should be over-represented?
4. Has the organiser contacted In 2015, the Ministry for Foreign
experts of the unrepresented Affairs launched the #midwives4all
gender? initiative with the aim of highlighting
5. Are you/your organisation able
the central role of midwives and
to share lists with the names of
mobilising support for them using
experts to ensure more even, methods such as digital diplomacy.
more inclusive representation? The campaign has had a wide reach.
In Uganda alone, around 4.5 million
people have been reached via social
media, radio and newspapers, and
through famous Ugandans being
named ambassadors or champions for
the initiative. Sweden also supports the
training of midwives in the country,
and takes part in an annual prize-giving
ceremony that recognises particular
skill within the profession. This
cooperation has strengthened Ugandan
women’s and girls’ access to safe
maternity care, which in turn has led
to substantial reductions in maternal
mortality and premature births. As well

38, fritt översatt och delvis modifierad

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 57

as raising awareness of the important Stockholm Forum on Gender
role of midwives via social media, the Equality on 15–17 April 2018 was
#midwives4all campaign also contribu- arranged by the Swedish Ministry for
tes towards training. An online midwi- Foreign Affairs and the Swedish
fery programme is offered at Dalarna Institute. The forum brought together
University in Sweden, and cooperation more than 700 participants from over
has been established with, among 100 different countries. The partici-
others, Somaliland. The ambition is pants included politicians, civil ser-
that Midwives4all shall have a life of its vants, representatives from internatio-
own, and shall engage, inspire and nal organisations, activists, debaters,
awaken debate about the central role of academics, industry actors and repre-
midwives in strengthening the health sentatives from civil society. The aim of
and rights of women and girls. the conference was to facilitate and
encourage exchanges of methods, new
She Decides was launched in February initiatives and more in-depth coopera-
2017 at a conference in Brussels, tion to reinforce international gender
organised by Belgium, Sweden, Den- equality work.
mark and the Netherlands, in reaction The programme featured around 30
to conservative forces and reduced seminars, workshops, round-table
support for SRHR issues. She Decides discussions and other events addressing
marked the start of a broad new challenges to global gender equality and
movement that has since mobilised concrete actions and tools for greater
both financial and political support gender equality and women’s and girls’
from non-governmental organisations rights, representation and resources.
and UN bodies. It involves giving The key word for the conference was
women and girls greater access to ‘co-creation’. In this spirit, participants
advice, evidence-based information, were asked to contribute to the content
non-discriminatory sex education, and structure of the programme. This
family planning, modern contracepti- resulted in a dynamic meeting on highly
ves, safe childbirth, HIV tests and safe topical questions and subjects. A wide
abortions. She Decides illustrates the range of themes was covered, including
importance of alliance building and the women’s economic empowerment,
energy that exists in quickly mobilising SRHR and the role of women in peace
support in connection with a particu- work. Several new reports and initiative
larly burning issue. were launched, including the World
Bank’s latest Women, Business and the

58 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Law report and a Call to Action for
Women Human Rights Defenders Summary of methods
presented by the Kvinna till Kvinna used in norm-critical and
Foundation, together with a number mobilising work
of partners.
•• Gender equality-conscious and
During the week of the conference, gender balanced conferences,
#GenderEqualWorld reached almost meeting and panels
3 million people worldwide. Partici- •• Gender mainstreamed and focused
pants registered initiatives, under- communication work, for example
takings and collaborations that arose via social media
linked to the conference at http:// •• Mobilising commitment and resources for gender equality
Documentation from all seminars and •• Cultural cooperation that raises
round-table discussions is also publis- awareness of and tackles gender
hed on the website. The Swedish equality challenges
Institute is developing a toolbox that •• Networks and platforms to bring
allows Swedish embassies and other together competence and create
interested parties to ensure that the shared visions for a gender equal
conference and its results live on in world
other contexts. Sweden is also presen-
ting the results of the conference to
partners such as UN Women. In
connection with the forum, the first
Feminist Think Space was arranged
in cooperation with UN Women where
discussions included the further
development of ideas highlighted
during the forum. Sweden engages in
dialogue with partners who are intere-
sted in arranging events that build
on the conference, and in 2019 the
Tunis Forum on Gender Equality
will be organised as a follow up on
the conference in Stockholm.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 59

5. W
 orking methods within
the various subsidiary areas
of foreign policy

60 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Swedish foreign policy involves Working methods within the different
Sweden’s connections with – and policy policy areas are partly the same as
towards – countries and international methods for the internal work of the
organisations, and ultimately aims to Swedish Foreign Service, since le-
promote peace, security and sustainable adership, ownership, control and
development. Swedish foreign policy is support are central to the gender
divided up into three main policy areas: equality work carried out in both
foreign and security policy, developme- organisations and countries. This
nt cooperation, and trade and promo- could, for example, involve proposing
tion policy. These three areas are and pushing for guiding documents,
interrelated tools for the work to pursue steering documentation, legislation,
and develop Sweden’s feminist foreign policies, functions and operational
policy. The policy is carried out by the assistance that supports gender equality
whole of the Swedish Foreign Service, and women’s and girls’ human
i.e. the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in rights. Another example is to demand
Stockholm and around 100 overseas reporting based on sex- and age-
agencies. There is close cooperation disaggregated data.
with other ministries within the
Government Offices and with a
number of central government agencies.
The policy is also carried out in dia-
logue with a number of Swedish and
international actors, in accordance
with the action plan for the feminist
foreign policy.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 61

This chapter goes into more depth
Sweden’s work with its
about how the feminist foreign
feminist foreign policy within
policy has been carried out within
the EU the various policy areas and some
Sweden has been a driving force in of their subsidiary areas.
drawing up the EU action plan for
gender equality and women’s
empowerment in the EU’s external
relations 2016–2020. One main area
in the action plan is the need for an
institutional cultural change with an
emphasis on leadership, accountabi-
lity and sufficient resources for
gender equality work, which is fully
in line with Sweden’s feminist
foreign policy. The action plan can
be found here:

The feminist foreign policy is a clear

profile issue for Sweden’s work in the
EU. By systematically and conti-
nuously repeating the same message,
Sweden has developed a predictabili-
ty which in turn has led to those who
are responsible for drawing up draft
versions of texts increasingly often
anticipating Swedish input by
including references to women and
gender equality from the outset.
Examples include the free trade
agreement with Chile in which, for
the first time, the EU has proposed
an entire chapter on gender equality.

62 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

5.1 Foreign and security policy 5.1.1 Peace and security

”We see it as an objective in War and crises result in societies being

itself to achieve gender equality shattered, families being split up and
development coming to a halt. Women
and human rights. However,
and girls, men and boys are affected in
we also see gender equality as different ways, and have different
an essential element in order to opportunities to influence peace work.
achieve other objectives, such Studies indicate that the likelihood of
peace agreements being reached, and
as sustainable peace, security lasting, increases if women participate
and development. Solutions in the peace process.39 Despite this,
where half of societies and women are almost entirely absent in
most peace negotiations, which has
populations are excluded are
consequences for the way peace is
not sustainable solutions.” shaped. Only 18 per cent of the 1 168
Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström
peace agreements signed between 1990
and 2014 included any reference to
The Swedish foreign and security women or gender equality.40
policy is pursued via direct relations One of the cornerstones of Sweden’s
with other countries and also through feminist foreign policy is that the work
bodies such as the EU and the UN. for sustainable peace and security must
This cooperation is based on interna- be representative and inclusive. A
tional law, which consists of all interna- central tool for achieving this is UN
tional agreements and provisions Security Council Resolution 1325 on
governing how states and other women, peace and security which was
international actors shall cooperate and adopted in 2000, and which – together
how they may and may not act towards with seven subsequent resolutions –
each other. Preventing risks and threats constitutes the international agenda for
is an important part of Sweden’s women, peace and security. The agenda
security policy, which in turn is part of focuses on women’s increased partici-
its foreign policy. pation, condemns conflict-related

39 S ee e.g. Paffenholz et al., “Making Women Count: Assessing Women’s Inclusion and Influence on the Quality
and Sustainability of Peace Negotiations and Implementation.”
40 UN Women (2015) “Preventing conflict, transforming justice, securing the peace – A Global Study on the
Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325”

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 63

sexual violence and confirms the key wanting to establish equivalent media-
role of gender equality in building tion networks. A new national action
peaceful societies. Ensuring the plan on women, peace and security, the
integration of this agenda into all work third since 2006, was adopted in spring
for peace and security is a highly 2016. It is aimed at three ministries and
prioritised issue for Sweden. Its imple- eleven agencies, and has been drawn up
mentation shall be an integral and in broad consultation with relevant
natural part of both day-to-day and actors in Sweden and with five conflict
long-term strategic work for peace
and post-conflict nations: Afghanistan,
and security.
Colombia, DR Congo, Liberia and
Sweden pursues this issue at country Palestine. For the first time, the action
level and within the UN, NATO, plan includes focus countries and
OSCE, the EU and the Council of targets women’s influence and partici-
Europe, and in cooperation with the pation in peace processes, conflict
Nordic nations. Sweden’s non-perma- prevention, improved protection
nent membership of the UN Security against violence and integrating gender
Council 2017–2018 has been a central equality perspectives into all peace and
platform offering opportunities to security work.41
raise the profile of these issues and to
establish a more integrated way of
working in connection with the agenda
for women, peace and security.

Sweden has also reviewed its own broad

work with women, peace and security,
which includes financing, seconding
Swedish experts and training Swedish
and international actors. Another
aspect of this work involves initiatives
of the Swedish Women’s Mediation
Network and providing technical
support and advice to countries/actors

41  S
 weden’s action plan for women, peace and security:

64 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Women’s mediation networks as a method

The Swedish Women’s Mediation Network was initiated in 2015 in response to

the significant under-representation of women in mediation and peace proces-
ses. The aim of the network is to promote peaceful conflict resolution and
actively support women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding initiatives
– before, during and after conflicts. The mediation network consists of mem-
bers with different thematic and geographic fields of expert knowledge, from
both civil society and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. All members
are women in senior positions with long experience of peacebuilding, diploma-
cy and political processes. So far, they have been involved in countries including
Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Somalia, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
These efforts have taken place at different levels, and have included strategic
support for women in different local societies as well as contributions to peace
negotiations at the highest formal level. The Swedish mediation network is part
of a Nordic mediation network, and works closely alongside a number of similar
initiatives, not least in Africa and the Mediterranean region, and with the UN,
the EU, the AU and OSCE. The mediation network is a flexible resource that
can engage at short notice in different conflict contexts and respond quickly
to needs that arise. There is great demand, and the network has had to be
expanded from nine to 15 members.

Image from p. 3 NAP 1325

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 65

Sweden works for gender equality
and gender mainstreaming in the EU’s
foreign and security policy in accordance
with the EU action plan for gender
equality and women’s empowerment.
Sweden has also contributed to the
EEAS having carried out a study of
how human rights and gender equality
are integrated into the EU’s planning
and implementation of its foreign and
security policy. One outcome of this ba-
seline study is that the code of conduct
for all missions has been updated with
references to sexual harassment, sexual
exploitation and gender-based violence.

In a UN context, work with women,

peace and security is driven forward
in continuous dialogue between
Stockholm, the Permanent Mission
of Sweden to the UN and other
relevant missions abroad. One consis-
tent experience from the dialogue
with international organisations is that
impact increases significantly if there
is access to new data and arguments
for why the gender equality perspective
is needed and which concrete measures
should be taken for strengthened

66 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

ry inclusion of texts about women
A selection of what Sweden and girls in the review of the UN’s
has done within the frame- counter-terrorism strategy. Created
work of the women, peace and supported Swedish, Nordic and
and security agenda other regional networks of women
mediators to support peace negotia-
•• Regularly championed the issue tions.
within the UN Security Council of
•• Contributed towards women’s
which Sweden is a non-permanent
participation in peace work in a
member during 2017–2018. In 2017,
number of countries including
references to women, peace and
Afghanistan, Colombia, Mali and
security were made for the first time
in history in 100 per cent of the
Security Council’s presidential •• Been a driving force behind the
statements on crisis situations. establishment of a senior advisor in
the European External Action Service
•• Championed the UN Security
(EEAS) in matters relating to gender
Council’s inclusion of information
equality and women, peace and
from representatives from women’s
organisations in its analyses.
•• Promoted issues relating to women,
•• Contributed to sexual and
peace and security on the agenda
gender-based violence having
within regional and multilateral
become a separate listing criterion
in a UN sanctions regime.
•• Contributed towards a more integra-
•• Cooperated with, and provided
ted gender equality perspective in
support for, the UN’s Special Repre-
the EU’s civilian and military crisis
sentative of the Secretary-General
management efforts, including by
on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
working to strengthen gender
Worked to ensure that gender
equality expertise within the EU’s
equality aspects are taken into
institutions and initiatives.
account in the implementation of the
UN Global Counter-Terrorism •• Through Swedish agencies, carried
Strategy and the Secretary-General’s out extensive training for Swedish
Plan of Action to Prevent Violent and international personnel taking
Extremism, and championed gender part in peace initiatives. 66 Hand-
equality issues in relation to the UN’s book Sweden’s feminist foreign policy
new Office of Counter-Terrorism Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign
(UNOCT) and ensured the satisfacto- policy 67.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 67

5.1.2 Human rights, argument that a focus on family issues
democracy and the rule of law involves attempts to restrict women’s
and girls’ enjoyment of human rights or
confirms stereotypical gender roles.
A number of different methods and Sweden also rejects references to
tools are used in pursuing the feminist religion, culture, customs or traditions
foreign policy in Sweden’s work for being used in international agreements
human rights, democracy and the rule to legitimise restrictions on women’s
of law. and girls’ enjoyment of human rights.
Sweden works to encourage countries
Gender equality and all women’s and that have lodged reservations about the
girls’ full enjoyment of human rights Women’s Convention and other
are continuously raised in the dialogue conventions to retract those reserva-
with official representatives of states, tions that contravene the purposes and
the EU, multilateral and regional intentions of the conventions.
organisations and other relevant actors.
The intensification of this dialogue has In 2016, Sweden arranged an interna-
been made possible through the tional meeting to counter discrimina-
introduction of an Ambassador for tory legislation, hosted by Minister of
Human Rights, Democracy and the Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström. As a
Rule of Law, an Ambassador for result of the meeting, Sweden has also
Gender Equality and an Ambassador contributed support to the cooperation
for Combating Trafficking in Persons. between the World Bank, UN Women,
the OECD and the CEDAW Commit-
Sweden plays an active role in negotia- tee (the Women’s Convention), which
tions on human rights in forums such develops indicators to measure a
as the UN’s General Assembly, the country’s compliance with SDG 5.1:
UN’s Human Rights Council and the “End all forms of discrimination
UN’s Commission on the Status of against all women and girls everywhe-
Women. Sweden has contributed to an re.” Among other things, the meeting
increased focus on women’s and girls’ emphasised the importance of support
rights and on the importance of sex- for representatives from civil society.
and age-disaggregated data in both By supporting women human rights
thematic and country-specific resolu- defenders, Sweden has intensified the
tions. Sweden promotes the individual work for democracy and to combat
as the bearer of rights and the universa- the shrinking space.
lity of human rights, and rejects the

68 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Gender-related violence is a serious for various member states. A Swedish
barrier to women’s and girls’ enjoyment expert has also trained the secretariat
of human rights. According to the on gender mainstreaming. Sweden has
Rome Statute of the International campaigned successfully to have a
Criminal Court, sexual violence can be Swedish expert elected to the Council
part of genocide, crimes against of Europe’s GRETA expert group,
humanity and war crimes. Sweden which monitors compliance with the
cooperates directly with countries, Council’s Convention on Action
national legal institutions and other against Trafficking in Human Beings.
bilateral actors, as well as the ICC and
its chief prosecutors, to combat the The 250th anniversary of the Swedish
occurrence of – and impunity for – Freedom of the Press Act was observed
gender-related and sexual violence in with an international seminar with and
conflict. This work often aims to for women in journalism and associated
increase national capacity to industries, with a focus on the harass-
investigate and bring proceedings ment they encounter. Sweden continues
against violence, and to highlight the to support the safety of women journa-
need to counteract stigma, strengthen lists through the Fojo Media Institute,
protection for victims of crime and and provides project support for a pilot
witnesses, and recognise the importan- study on establishing a centre to
ce of civil society organisations’ role in support journalists who are subjected
this work. Sweden has also supported to online hate, with a particular focus
GQUAL, an international campaign on women journalists.
that advocates establishing internatio-
nal and national guidelines to increase
and promote the proportion of women
in leadership positions in international
tribunals and judicial bodies.

Sweden has also championed gender

equality issues and shared Swedish
experiences in the Council of Europe’s
Gender Equality Commission. In
addition, Sweden has made financial
contributions to the implementation
of the Council of Europe’s action plans

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 69

Three questions for Annika Ben David

Sweden’s Ambassador for Human 2.What reactions do you encounter

Rights and the Rule of Law when the Swedish feminist foreign
policy comes up for discussion?
1. In which ways is It is clear that people are familiar
the feminist with the policy, and that they
foreign policy a understand what it involves. The way
useful tool for I see it, Sweden is associated with a
you in your role strong human rights policy, both by
as Sweden’s those who agree with us and by those
Ambassador for who don’t, and that the feminist
Human Rights? foreign policy is seen as a natural part
The feminist of this policy. We have long champi-
foreign policy is one of the founda- oned women’s and girls’ enjoyment
tions of my work – a starting point, of human rights, and are seen as
analysis, method and perspective that pioneers in this field. In this context,
permeates working for democracy, I believe that the feminist foreign
human rights and the rule of law in policy is seen as another step in
foreign policy. The feminist foreign showing that the whole of society,
policy is based on the principle of peace and security benefit from
everyone’s equal value and rights, women’s and girls’ human rights
everywhere and all the time. Ultima- being respected.
tely, it is about non-discrimination,
which is at the core of human rights.
It’s a good, useful way to communica-
te our work to protect and promote
human rights.

70 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The Swedish
Sex Purchase Act
3. What do you think are the three The Swedish prohibition on paying
most important areas within human
for sexual services came into force
on 1 January 1999. This made
rights where the Swedish feminist
Sweden the first country in the world
foreign policy has a clear role to play
to criminalise purchasing – but not
in the future?
selling – sex. International interest in
the Swedish model banning paying
•• The agenda for peace and security, for sex has been, and remains, high.
for which we now have empirical Several other countries have also
data showing how important it is adopted the Swedish model, such as
to include women and their South Korea, South Africa, Iceland,
perspective. Norway, England and Wales,
Northern Ireland, Canada and
•• The global SRHR agenda, where France.42
we are seeing a clear reversal – Sweden emphasises the importance
even in stable democracies in the of not creating legal markets for
global West – in areas such human trafficking. Discussions are
as abortion, access to contra- taking place, including within the
ceptives and sex and relationship UN, on whether or not prostitution
education. should be regarded as a profession.
The term ‘sex worker’ is often used
•• Given the shrinking democratic in these discussions. Sweden’s policy
space globally, it’s incredibly on this matter is clear. Prostitution
important to support and protect can never be regarded as a professi-
on; prostitution is always exploita-
defenders of human rights, journa-
tion. Sweden encourages more
lists, bloggers, academics and countries to consider legislation
artists, who are often doubly targeted at the person who pays for
exposed if they are women, both sex and offers support to the person
online and offline. being exploited. The criminal focus
and guilt are thereby shifted from
42 w
the exploited to the exploiter.
den-svenska-sexkopslagen-har-varit-framgangsrik/ Knowledge about the individual’s
43 Sweden’s view was put forward by Minister for
Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality Åsa
own rights, including about sexual
Regnér in a speech about human trafficking during and reproductive health and rights,
an open debate at the UN Security Council in New
York on 15 March 2017.
is essential.43

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 71

5.1.3 Disarmament and weapons and instances of violence that
non-proliferation can lead to conflict in a society. Sweden
has contributed to the development
of sex-disaggregated data in relation to
Within the field of disarmament and the consequences of armed violence.
non-proliferation, the work has focused Swedish support has contributed to
on both gender mainstreaming and research and policy documents within
specific initiatives targeted at women the field, for example through studies
and girls. carried out by the Small Arms Survey.
This in turn has led to targeted initiati-
Women are under-represented in ves in connection with international
contexts where disarmament and negotiations and processes on small
non-proliferation are discussed – at arms and light weapons, and with
diplomatic and technical levels, and international weapons inspections.
within academia and civil society
organisations. Sweden has worked to Sweden has also promoted a gender
increase women’s representation and equality perspective in processes on
involvement in disarmament and international weapons inspections and
non-proliferation. Sweden has also disarmament, such as the UN Arms
worked to develop and disseminate Trade Treaty (ATT). The ATT is an
knowledge about how access to and important tool in the work to combat
proliferation of weapons affects illicit and irresponsible trading in
women, men, girls and boys differently. conventional weapons. Sweden is
This involves highlighting the different working for the application of the Arms
effects of using and testing nuclear Trade Treaty (article 7.4) and that state
weapons. Sweden pushes a gender parties should take into account the risk
equality perspective in processes of exported materials being used for –
relating to international weapons or facilitating – gender-based violence
inspections and the disarmament and or violence against women or children.
non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Ahead of the ongoing review of the
For example, in the UN Programme of NPT, Sweden contributed to a discus-
Action on the illicit trade in small arms sion on a report highlighting the
and light weapons, and in the Non- disproportionate biological and social
proliferation Treaty (NPT). impact on girls and women of detona-
ting and testing nuclear weapons. The
There is often a link between con- study also problematised the unequal
centrations of small arms and light representation in disarmament contexts.

72 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Alliance-building and dialogue have
been significant for the impact of the The export of military
gender equality perspective in these equipment
issues, both multilaterally and bilateral-
ly. Countries and organisations that By championing a feminist foreign
were not previously active have been policy, the Swedish Government
engaged, and there are concrete plans works systematically with achieving
for monitoring in the committee work results that strengthen women’s and
of the UN General Assembly. Another girls’ rights, representation and
example is the work within the Interna- resources. Sweden attaches great
tional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), importance to preventing and
in which Sweden has started the Group counteracting gender-based and
of Friends of Women in Nuclear with sexual violence in conflict and in
the aim of contributing to gender equal society generally. One important
representation and more gender equal aspect of this work is the strict
policy within the IAEA. control exercised over the export of
military equipment from Sweden.
By providing actors with political and This takes place, for example, through
financial support, Sweden has helped to Sweden applying article 7.4 of the
raise awareness of the link between the ATT. The article was included in the
proliferation of weapons and gender-ba- treaty with the strong support of
sed violence, and to ensuring gender countries including Sweden, and
mainstreaming within operations. UN requires state parties to take into
bodies, agencies and civil society account the risk of exported materi-
organisations are some of the actors als being used for – or facilitating –
who have received Swedish support. serious gender-based violence or
During 2018, Sweden supports, for serious violence against women or
example, the United Nations Institute children.
of Disarmament (UNIDIR) in working
to integrate a gender equality perspective Sweden has also worked to ensure
into multilateral disarmament plat- that the Inspectorate of Strategic
forms. Cooperation between the Nordic Products has sufficient competence
nations and within the EU has also to be able to include gender equality
been important for this purpose. aspects and risks of gender-basedvi-
olence in assessments relating to

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 73

5.2 International development
human rights and international cooperation
humanitarian rights, and to apply
article 7.4 of the ATT. As part of this ”When we strengthen women
work, a targeted skills development and girls, we strengthen
initiative for the inspectorate was
nations and reduce poverty.
arranged in 2016.
This begins with giving every
In addition, the Government woman and girl the right to
submitted a bill to the Riksdag in control her own body.”
October 2017, including proposals
on further sharpening export Minister for International Development
Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lövin
controls on military equipment (Bill
2017/17:23). The legislative change Sweden’s development cooperation
came into force on 15 April 2018. aims to create preconditions for better
The new regulations imply that the living conditions for people living in
democratic status of the receiving poverty and under oppressionSwedish
country shall be a central condition development aid is often channelled via
for assessing whether or not to grant multilateral organisations and the EU.
permission. This assessment shall Humanitarian aid also involves
also take into account whether the Sweden’s efforts to save lives, alleviate
export could counteract equitable suffering and maintain human dignity
and sustainable development in for people in need who are affected by
the receiving country. An overall natural disaster, armed conflict or other
assessment will be carried out. catastrophic conditions.

The focus on gender equality in

development cooperation is based on
the insight that strengthened gender
equality contributes to reduced poverty
and more sustainable development. It is
also based on the insight that poverty is
different for women and men, girls and
boys. An important issue for Sweden is
to involve boys and men in the work for
gender equal societies. This could

74 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

involve initiatives that promote positive Sweden’s international development
forms of masculinity. cooperation.

Swedish development cooperation is Aid efforts are carried out within all
the area of foreign policy that has objective areas for the Swedish feminist
historically worked the longest with foreign policy. This includes support to
a clear gender equality perspective. strengthen countries’ legislation for
The feminist foreign policy has meant women’s and girls’ rights, to promote
a further raise of ambition. Gender women’s economic empowerment, to
equality is a thematic focus of the combat men’s violence against women,
Policy Framework for Swedish Deve- to strengthen women’s roles in peace
lopment Cooperation and Humani- processes and to increase women’s
tarian Assistance decided on by the political participation and access to
Government in 2016.44 The framework SRHR.
establishes that all Swedish developme-
nt cooperation shall be gender main-
streamed. Guidance has also been
strengthened through the addition of
new wording on gender equality in the
ordinance to the Swedish International
Development Cooperation Agency
(Sida). Sida is also part of the Swedish
Government’s Gender Mainstreaming
in Government Agencies (JiM)
development programme. The Folke
Bernadotte Academy (FBA), which
works with international peace initiati-
ves and development cooperation, is
also involved in the JiM programme.
The FBA has a gender equality per-
spective throughout all its operations,
and works in particular with women,
peace and security in various conflict
and post-conflict nations as part of

44 Government Communication 2016/17:60

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 75

Concrete tools in Sida’s work •• Experience shows that gender
with gender equality: mainstreaming must be combined
with targeted gender equality
•• The Swedish International Develop-
initiatives to achieve the best results.
ment Cooperation Agency (Sida) has
In line with this, the Swedish Govern-
a gender mainstreaming plan for
ment adopted a global strategy
the period 2016–2018. One objective
for gender equality and women’s
of this plan is to increase the propor-
and girls’ rights for the 2018–2022
tion of operations with gender
period in April 2018. The strategy’s
equality as a main focus. Particular
objective areas involve strengthened
efforts are being carried out within
global and regional normative work
the area of productive sectors, such
and counteracting discrimination and
as market development, agriculture,
gender stereotypical norms and all
energy, the environment and climate.
forms of gender-based violence and
The plan also establishes that
harmful customs. The strategy also
routines and working methods to
has a particular focus on strengthe-
strengthen gender mainstreaming
ning working conditions for women’s
should continuously be reviewed,
rights organisations, feminist
particularly with a focus on monito-
movements and women human
ring and results.
rights campaigners. Another area in
•• Sida has also developed a toolbox the strategy is to work for increased
focusing on gender equality in access to and use of sex- and
development aid, the Sida Gender age-disaggregated data and gender
Toolbox. The toolbox provides equality research. The strategy will
knowledge, tools and inspiration on be financed with SEK 1bn over a
how the gender equality perspective five-year period.
can be strengthened in Swedish
development cooperation. The Sida
Gender Toolbox consists of tools for
addressing the ‘How?’ question (e.g.
gender equality analyses and gender
mainstreaming) and thematic
overviews (the ‘What?’ question), and
is available in English at: https://www.

76 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Three questions for Sida on the
new gender equality strategy 45
ongoing work, and provides opportu-
nities for innovative and catalytic
1.How has the process of been in work within the field. Since the global
developing the documentation for gender equality strategy includes the
the Government? entire gender equality agenda, this
In order to draw up the documenta- also facilitates support for new types
tion for the strategy, Sida appointed of actors who work for gender
an internal working group in autumn equality and for women’s and girls’
2017 to support and win backing for rights.
the work at the agency, and to
identify synergies with other opera- 3. What do you see as the main
tions. An extensive consultation challenges, both internally at Sida
process was carried out in several and externally, with implementing
stages, including with other missions the new strategy?
abroad, other Swedish agencies, civil This is an ambitious strategy that is
society organisations, researchers dependent on synergies with other
and consultants working within the global thematic areas. The challenges
field of gender equality. Written include ensuring a continued prioriti-
contributions for the analysis and the sation of gender equality in the design
focus of the work were obtained and implementation of other strate-
from almost 30 international gies, both thematically and geographi-
partners, from within the UN, civil cally. Supporting the coordination and
society and research institutes. development of a global normative
agenda also requires close cooperation
2. What are the biggest changes with and coordination with thematic policy
the new strategy compared with how competence and multilateral focal
Sida worked previously points within Sida. Several innovative
The global strategy should be seen as and catalytic initiatives, including
a raising of ambitions for gender support for women’s rights organisa-
equality and for women’s and girls’ tions and the safety of women human
rights in development cooperation. rights activities, are also resource-in-
It both complements and reinforces tensive from staffing and case mana-
gement perspectives.

45 Interview with Sida’s Lisa Mossberg and

Eva Johansson, April 2018 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 77
Swedish development cooperation is analysis. A gender equality
channelled via several different actors. analysis identifies differences between
Extensive core support to various women, men, girls and boys with
multilateral organisations are prepared regard to the groups’ access to resour-
at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, as ces, opportunities and power, and to
well as direct grants to several organisa- the barriers that exist along the way.
tions and projects. Through agencies This does not necessary involve a group
such as Sida, the FBA and the Swedish being worse off or being more seriously
Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), aid affected, but that the groups of women
is channelled to several actors at project and men, or boys and girls, are often
and programme levels. Comprehensive affected differently. In order to high-
support is also provided to Swedish light this, a gender equality analysis
civil society organisations to pursue must be carried out.
a poverty-focused and gender equal

With the feminist foreign policy, gender

budgeting (as mentioned in chapter 3)
has been strengthened within the
Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ grant
management. Demands are imposed to
ensure the gender mainstreaming of
grant management in every individual
case. This means, for example, that gen-
der equality and power analyses must
be included as part of the preparation
and monitoring of the grant decision.
New templates have also been drawn
up for preparing core support for
multilateral organisations in which the
gender equality perspective must be

To be able to meet the different needs

of women and men, every initiative
must be preceded by a gender equality

78 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Sweden champions gender equality
Gender equality work in multilateral organisations by
analyses within development being an active donor and board
cooperation member. For example, Sweden is the
biggest donor to UN Women and is
•• Ensure that women, men, girls and also a major donor to UNFPA. Sweden
boys are consulted during the has also played a leading role in drawing
planning phase to identify needs up gender equality strategies for the
and bottlenecks. development banks, including the
•• Carry out on-site consultations that World Bank, the African Development
are accessible to both women and Bank, the European Bank for Re-
men, and at times of the day when construction and Development, and
they are available. Carry out the European Investment Bank.
gender-separate consultations if
•• Be clear. Avoid wording such as
“Gender equality shall characterise
all phases of the project”. Instead,
describe what, how and when.
•• Analyse women’s and men’s access
to resources: economic, productive,
political and time resources.
•• Use both quantitative and qualitati-
ve indicators to follow up on the
•• Ensure sex- and age-disaggregated

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 79

Accountability and impact •• Increase their expertise and
strengthen their prevention work
Sweden shall work to achieve concrete against discriminatory rules, norms
results for gender equality and for and stereotypes in relation to
women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of gender, gender identity, gender
human rights by cooperating with expression and sexual orientation,
multilateral actors and using di-
rectorships, co-ownerships, mem- •• Have an active organisational and
berships, partnerships and other tools staffing policy that creates non-dis-
in order to pursue both normative and criminatory organisational structu-
operational work. As part of this, res and promotes gender equality,
Sweden shall cooperate actively with including more women in manage-
the accountability mechanisms in the ment positions,
multilateral bodies and shall work to
ensure that the bodies: •• Set aside resources for working
with gender equality and women’s,
•• Have guiding documents based on girls’ and LGBTQ persons’ human
international law and international rights, including human resources
agreements, consistently follow and expertise for gender equality
these regulations, and apply an work.
intersectional perspective in gender
equality analyses and other work,

•• Develop sex- and age-disaggregated


•• Increase their expertise on gender

equality and women’s and girls’

80 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Sweden’s work to counteract •• Minimise negative effects on
sexual harassment and as- populations in need, particularly in
saults within the aid sector humanitarian contexts, where
harassment or assaults are brought
Sweden takes a zero-tolerance to light and the withdrawal of
approach towards sexual harassment support is enforced.
and assaults. As part of this, Sweden is
adding wording on sexual harassment •• Ensure that sexual harassment and
and assaults to the decision on assaults are included on the agenda
conditions for core support. This at a high level. Sweden has raised
decision means that multilateral the issue at meetings of EU
organisations who want to continue to ministers for development aid and
receive support from Sweden must with the European Commissioner
follow ethical rules and apply protec- for Humanitarian Aid, written to
tion against sexual harassment and the heads of the major UN bodies,
assaults. Ongoing dialogue is also engaged in dialogue with the UN
taking place with multilateral partner Secretary-General and raised the
organisations and funds on how they issue with the multilateral develop-
can meet Sweden’s demands for a ment banks.
zero-tolerance approach in relation to
the long-term Swedish core support. •• Ensure that issues relating to sexual
In addition, a review is being carried harassment and assaults are
out of Sida’s agreement templates for included when drawing up the EU’s
civil society organisations, and aid instruments.
Sweden is continuing to work with
these issues in various multilateral •• Hold an active dialogue with
forums. the circle of donors within the
framework of safeguarding, in
Among other things, Sweden has order to coordinate donors’ actions.
worked to:

•• Promote a zero-tolerance approach

to all forms of sexual harassment
and assaults within the aid sector.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 81

The feminist foreign policy has also sed the importance of a gender equality
involved a stronger gender equality perspective in international humanita-
perspective in Sweden’s work with rian law (IHL), including at the huma-
humanitarian aid. The Policy nitarian world summit in Istanbul
Framework for Swedish Development in 2016 and by publishing the report
Cooperation and Humanitarian “IHL and Gender – Swedish
Assistance states that Sweden’s experiences” in association with the
humanitarian aid shall contribute Swedish Red Cross.
towards strengthening women’s and
girls’ right to protection in humani- Through the global initiative Call to
tarian crises, and shall strengthen their Action on Protection from Gender-
opportunity to play an active role in Based Violence in Emergencies,
response to humanitarian crises. launched by the UK and Sweden in
Gender equality analyses can be 2013, gender-based violence in humani-
decisive in order to be able to save lives tarian catastrophes and crises is
and alleviate suffering, as the challeng- highlighted. The aim is to drive the
es and needs may be different for question forward and to persuade
women and men. For example, humanitarian actors (state actors,
dramatic increases in teenage preg- bilateral donors, multilateral organisa-
nancy, child marriage and gender-based tions and civil society) to take more
violence have been demonstrated in responsibility for systematically
disaster situations. Sweden has under- including the issue of gender-based
taken concrete measures to integrate violence in their work. Sweden chaired
a gender equality perspective and the initiative in 2016–2017and contri-
measures against sexual and gender- buted to a growth in membership and
based violence into humanitarian to more than 360 undertakings being
efforts and the humanitarian reform pledged in relation to the initiative’s
process. For example, Sweden has action plan. The network now includes
committed to work for those affected more than 70 actors from around the
by crises to have greater influence over world. Tools have been devised to
humanitarian work and only intends to facilitate the work involved, including
support humanitarian actors who base a website (https://www.calltoactiongbv.
their work on a gender equality analysis com) where the abovementioned action
and sex- and age-disaggregated data. plans for the period 2016–2020 can
Sweden has also consistently emphasi- be found.

82 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Migration and gender equality to meet the urgent needs of refugees
in foreign policy: and migrants – not least women and
girls – and to find solutions for them,
Sweden works to ensure that refugee including evacuation and returning.
and migrant women and girls can Sweden is also one of the biggest grant
enjoy human rights, including through donors to the UN’s refugee organisa-
engagement in the processes to draw tion, the UNHCR. The UNHCR
up two global frameworks: one for works to save lives and alleviate
refugees and one on migration. suffering in humanitarian situations
Within the context of the negotiations all over the world, and does so with a
on the global migration framework, gender equality perspective to ensure
Sweden has worked to increase the that women and men get equal access
number of support offices along the to protection and aid.
main migration routes and in major
transit countries. These support
offices can provide humanitarian
support and advice, and carry out
specific initiatives for women and
girls. Sweden has also prioritised the
issue of safe workforce migration with
decent conditions, particularly for
women. Within the process to draw
up a global refugee framework,
Sweden has emphasised the importan-
ce of refugee girls and boys needing
access to good quality education and
that the framework must feature a
gender equality perspective. Sweden
also provides support for the UN’s
International Organisation for
Migration (IOM), to ensure that their
vital work along the central Mediterra-
nean route can continue. This is of the
utmost importance in order to be able

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 83

Climate and gender equality Bank’s Climate Investment Funds
(CIF) and the Green Climate Fund
Climate effects in the form of drought, (GCF), Sweden has worked successfully
flooding and extreme weather lead to with the development of ambitious new
poorer health and growing food and gender equality policies and concrete
water supply problems. These challeng- action plans for their implementation.
es hit the world’s 1.3bn poor people the Sweden has also worked actively for
hardest, and because women have strategic recruitments to strengthen
limited access to political, economic gender equality work in these funds’
and material resources, this has a secretariats. Sweden drives forward
negative effect on their vulnerability gender equality work in these funds by,
to – and ability to adapt to – climate for example, imposing requirements
impact. that:
Women are often responsible for the •• conditions placed when accrediting
majority of agricultural work and for the funds’ implementation organisa-
their families’ food security. Women tions include gender equality;
also often play a key role in the use and •• the result frameworks include
administration of forest resources and indicators relevant to gender equality
water. Women are thereby important that allow the funds’ results to be
agents for change who can contribute monitored within the field of gender
to important perspectives and solutions equality; and
for dealing with climate change. There
are also many examples of investments •• women are involved in the design
in renewable energy contributing to and implementation of projects.
greater employment opportunities
for women and promoting female
Sweden has strengthened the work to
integrate the environmental and
climate perspective with the gender
equality perspective in development
cooperation, both bilaterally and
within the EU, and in the major
multilateral environmental and climate
Minister for International Development
funds. In funds such as the Global Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lövin signes the
Environment Fund (GEF), the World Government proposal for a new Climate Act

84 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

5.3 Trade and promotion policy fair trade policy that increases women’s
economic empowerment.

”Investing in equality is smart. The potential is enormous. A 2015 UN

Excluding women from econo- study shows that if the world’s labour
markets were completely equal, the
mic opportunities is probably
global economy would grow by USD
the biggest waste in the world. 28 trillion by 2025. The gross world
[…] As well as being smart and product would rise by 26 per cent,
right, gender equality is also roughly equivalent to the combined
GNPs of China and the USA. In India,
good for the economy. When GNP would rise by a full 60 per cent, as
women participate in the the country is further down the list of
labour market as employees women’s labour market involvement.48
In addition, the world’s women cur-
or entrepreneurs, their power
rently carry out 75 per cent of unpaid
over their own lives increases work. This work is estimated to be
and the whole of society is worth USD 10 trillion each year,
strengthened.” corresponding to 13 per cent of the
global economy.49
Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde
Much remains to be done before these
figures can become a reality. Globally,
Swedish trade and promotion policy 50 per cent of women of working age
aims to promote Swedish economic are in gainful employment compared to
interests and Sweden’s image abroad, 77 per cent of men. Women aged
which in turn facilitates exports and 25–64 have increased their participa-
imports and enables a mutual exchange tion in the workforce, while participa-
of trade with other countries. Swedish tion among younger women has fallen.
trade policy has a strong redistributive The reason for this is probably growing
effect and a clear gender equality pers- education opportunities. Women work
pective. The feminist foreign policy has part-time more often, and receive
further raised the ambitions in opera- considerably lower hourly pay than
ting and promoting a progressive and men. The reasons are that women work

48 McKinsey Global Institute (2015), “The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to
global growth
49 Ibid

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 85

in low-paid industries and that men By working with responsible business
receive higher pay than women for in guarantees the Swedish Export
equivalent work. Women work more Credits Guarantee Board (EKN)
often in the informal sector with contributes to the work on the Global
domestic services and market trading, Goals of the 2030 Agenda and to the
and have poorer access to information feminist foreign policy. In certain
technology, which affects access to industries and on risky markets, where
financial services and markets. Girls the need is often the greatest, EKN’s
and women in all parts of the world guarantees can be decisive for business
account for a large proportion of success. These guarantees contribute to
unpaid work in the home and in society. development both in Sweden and in
Women often stop paid work earlier to buying countries. In developing
care for older relatives or to look after countries with limited financial
children and grandchildren. Their opportunities, EKN’s guarantees
lifetime pay is lower, and thus so too is contribute to financial resources that
their pension. In turn, they can end up strengthen the countries opportunities
in a position of dependence in relation for development. By contributing to
to their spouses and children. infrastructure and public transport, for
example, EKN makes a contribution
Women face many challenges in the towards women’s opportunities.
field of trade. Women entrepreneurs
often work within small-scale opera- Pursuing a feminist foreign policy
tions which lack access to financial includes a feminist trade policy. For
capital, technical training and the example, Sweden has contributed to a
marketing capabilities required to gender perspective in the agreements
benefit from new trading opportuni- on the Global Goals and on financing
ties, and survive in competition with for development, and to central
other actors. Women also often have recommendations from leading
limited access to other resources, economic forums such as the
including energy, water, technology, International Monetary Fund (IMF)
tools, transport, education and market and the World Bank emphasising the
data, to name just a few. Other barriers importance of including growth and
to women’s economic empowerment women’s participation in the labour
include gender stereotyped social market.
norms and discriminatory legislation.

86 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Three questions for the Swedish decisive for pursuing gender equality
Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ focal point issues within this area. Being able to
for feminist foreign policy within the
field of trade: point to analyses of the positive
economic effects of gender mainstrea-
1. Do you and your colleagues think ming has also been important.
that the work with a feminist foreign
policy has been beneficial within 3. What’s in the pipeline right now,
trade? in terms of new agreements, strate-
gies, partners, etc.?
The Government’s trade policy work
within the framework of the feminist Sweden is currently pushing for
foreign policy has contributed towards gender equality to be integrated into
more organisations providing statis- a number of free trade agreements.
tics and analysis in this field, which is One way of doing this is by strength-
just as complicated as it is decisive. ening the use of – and the process
Getting an accurate picture means in connection with – existing tools
that we can argue much more convin- such as the EU’s sustainability impact
cingly and formulate more effective assessments. It’s also important
proposals for actions. The fact that that relevant organisations produce
Sweden has pushed these issues in sex-disaggregated data and analyses
cooperation with other like-minded within trade policy to a greater extent.
countries has also contributed to
many countries supporting a declara-
tion on gender equality and trade at
the eleventh World Trade Organiza-
tion (WTO) Ministerial Conference
in December 2017

2. Which tools and arguments have

you benefited from the most in your
work to implement the feminist
foreign policy?

Analyses and statistics showing

unequal conditions within internatio-
nal trade and trade policy have been

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 87

U n i t e d n at i o n s C o n f e r e n C e o n t r a d
Within the EU, Sweden has been a
driving force for better integrating Swedish support to the
gender equality into trade policy and UN for developing gender
encouraging others to do likewise. equality tools within trade
Sweden wants to see a stronger gender
equality perspective in the work of Sweden’s cooperation with
the WTO and in the EU’s free trade UNCTAD has resulted in the
agreements with third countries and Swedish-financed Trade and Gender
welcomes the fact that the EU Trade Toolbox. The toolbox aims to help
Commissioner has encouraged the governments, officials and other
WTO to integrate gender equality to actors to predict and assess the
a higher degree. Within the OECD, effects of trade policy initiatives for
Sweden has pushed for gender equality women and gender equality.50 In this
to be integrated into trade policy work. way, the toolbox can contribute tow
Sweden has also worked with the UN’s trade playing greater role for inclusi-
trade body UNCTAD to produce a ve development and for women’s
toolbox containing methods for asses- economic empowerment.
sing the effects of trade policy initiatives
for women and gender equality.

Trade and Gender Toolbox

$5.5 bn

88 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy $0.5
To further increase knowledge within the #SheTrades51 initiative which aims
this field, Sweden’s National Board of to connect a million women entrepre-
Trade has carried out a study of trade, neurs to the market by 2020. The
social sustainability and gender equali- initiative identifies seven global actions
ty, and has held a seminar on gender in which governments, the private
equality and trade under the Global sector and civil society can make
Review of Aid for Trade. concrete pledges to remedy obstacles
hampering women-owned businesses.
Sweden also supports the International
Trade Centre (ITC), a UN/WTO
organisation that aims to create the
right conditions for small and medi-
um-sized companies in developing
countries to enter global markets for
trade. The ITC works actively with
trade and gender equality and with
women’s enterprise, and has launched

The seven actions for SheTrades


Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 89

In 2016, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan One aspect of foreign policy involves
Löfven launched the Global Deal promoting Swedish values and
initiative – a global focus on social spreading the image of Sweden around
dialogue and better labour market the world. Gender equality is an
conditions – in partnership with the important part of this image. Many
ILO and the OECD. The aim of the Swedish embassies confirm that there
Global Deal is to improve the dialogue is a great demand for information about
between labour market actors and how Sweden has achieved such a high
national governments to improve terms degree of gender equality. Questions
of employment and productivity. about Swedish society – including
Effective labour market relations and childcare, parental insurance and the
decent work contribute towards greater proportion of women in the Swedish
equality and inclusive economic labour market – are asked regularly,
development, benefiting workers, and there is a clear interest in finding
businesses and society – a ‘win-win- out more.
win’ situation. The Global Deal
concept does not involve developing a One tool for implementing the feminist
new framework or agreement to be foreign policy is the Swedish Institute’s
implemented in a uniform manner in (SI) toolbox (,
all countries or creating a new interna- which contains presentations such as
tional organisation. Instead, the aims Swedish Dads (see chapter 6) and other
are to develop a platform to highlight information about a number of gender
the issue of cooperation between equality-conscious themes. These show
parties and to strengthen existing what it means to be a feminist foreign
cooperation structures. For example, policy pioneer and where Sweden
Sweden and Bangladesh have signed stands on the issue of gender equality.52
a cooperation agreement to contribute
to better dialogue between employers
and employees in Bangladesh’s fema-
le-dominated textiles industry. The
project is being carried out by the ILO
in cooperation with local trade unions
and employer organisations. H&M and
IF Metall are also involved.

90 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The exhibition has been developed
Swedish Dads into an important tool in the Swedish
Foreign Service’s work to encourage
Swedish Dads is a photo exhibition new approaches and values. It has
featuring portraits of fathers who been displayed at Swedish embassies
have chosen to take at least six in around 50 countries, and more
months of parental leave. Photograp- exhibitions are planned. (For more
her Johan Bävman followed some of information, see chapter 6.)
these fathers to find out about their
experiences and how parental leave
has affected their relationships with
their partners and their children.
The aim of the exhibition is to show
the effect of more equal parenting at
individual and societal levels.

" I use portraits and interviews

with dads together with their
children in everyday situations,
with the aim of focusing on
fathers who choose their
family over their jobs and
careers. The aim is also to
focus on universal loving
aspects of parenting, regard-
less of whether this involves
fathers or mothers." 53
Photographer Johan Bävman

52 T he Swedish Institute. Fact sheet: Pioneering a feminist foreign policy and Gender equality – we’ve come
a long way, haven’t we?

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 91

6. Working methods at country level

92 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Swedish missions abroad play a For the missions abroad, the feminist
central role in the implementation of foreign policy puts these issues in focus
the feminist foreign policy. of political dialogue, development
cooperation, promotion policy and in
One important starting point for the country analyses. Awareness of and
feminist foreign policy is that the work interest in these issues is increasing,
must be based on the reality where including among employees and
operations are carried out, so that the cooperation partners.
analyses are accurate and the approach
has the maximum impact. This means
that the approaches may vary between
different missions abroad. At the same ”The fact that we have a femi-
time, some experiences coincide. For nist foreign policy has made
example, virtually all missions abroad
us something of a ‘superhero’
say that the feminist foreign policy has
involved something new and different among the aid actors present.
that encourages new integrated discus- Colleagues say that they are
sions internally, as well as new ways of often asked by other state aid
working and initiatives externally,
where all tools and policy areas work agencies what promoting a
together and have a greater impact. In feminist foreign policy is like,
the same way, interaction is created and how good this initiative is.”
with a number of Swedish actors on
Swedish embassy
location, such as Sida, the FBA,
Business Sweden, the Swedish Institute
and Swedish businesses. This in turn
makes it possible to draw on the
expertise of all these actors and reach
out to more target groups.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 93

The in-depth work has borne fruit, Day for the Elimination of Violence
both externally and internally. Below against Women, until 10 December,
is a selection of examples on how Human Rights Day. In Bangladesh,
missions abroad work systematically for example, the Swedish Embassy has
with the feminist foreign policy using used the occasion to invite participants
various methods. Other examples can to round-table discussions on
be found elsewhere in this handbook women’s career opportunities in the
and in the collection of examples for textiles industry, in association with
the first three years’ implementation the Swedish Institute and the other
of the policy.54 Nordic embassies.

International Women’s Day, Human The work to combat gender-based

Rights Day, International Day for the violence has also included a
Elimination of Violence against ‘hackathon’ in Honduras, with
Women, International Day of the Girl organisers including the Swedish and
Child and other international days are Dutch embassies. The event resulted
used by all parts of the Swedish Foreign in several tools and initiatives that
Service to raise awareness for these received support for further deve-
issues. These events enable Sweden to lopment. These included a mobile
spread messages of gender equality app for women exposed to violence in
and women’s and girls’ rights via panel the home, featuring a direct line to
discussions, speeches, articles, the police and support groups, as well
radio programmes and social media as recommendations about who else
posts. to contact.

The embassies are also actively involved Swedish and local holidays also offer
in the global 16 Days of Activism excellent opportunities to discuss
against Gender-based Violence gender equality and women’s and girls’
campaign, which is held every year and rights. For example, the Swedish
runs from 25 November, International Embassy in Tanzania reports that:


94 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

”The 2017 Lucia reception Dialogue and sharing experiences,
provided another platform both on an ongoing basis and in
connection with high-level visits, are
for reaching out with the
key tools in this work. These dialogues
message about girls’ rights. are often based on specific issues, but
Many guests said that they many countries also show an interest in
appreciated how Sweden the Swedish overall view.
had succeeded in using a The Swedish feminist foreign policy
reception to present an has contributed to women’s enterprise
important message. The and employment in a number of
different countries. In Bolivia, for
event was broadcast on
example, Sweden has contributed to
one of the biggest local more than 500 new jobs (self-employed
TV channels, ensuring a or employed) for women with few
wide reach for the message.” resources. Similarly, by financing the
Women in Business programme with
The Swedish Embassy in Tanzania
the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (EBRD), Sweden has
been able provide women entrepre-
neurs in Eastern Europe with capacity
development and advice, as well as
preferential loan terms with local
banks. Another example is the
networks of local support centres for
women (WINNET) which have been
developed in recent years in accordance
with the Swedish model, and which
build upon cooperation between civil
society, the state, the private sector and
academia. These centres have created
skills development opportunities and
jobs for vulnerable women, enabling
them to empower themselves, resulting
in increased self-confidence and more
interest in political engagement and

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 95

participation. Sweden has also establis- involved in the domestic policy discus-
hed a leadership programme for sion through debate articles and social
women managers and entrepre- media. Development cooperation
neurs in Saudi Arabia, and has carried contacts have been used for influencing
out an expert visit to Sweden from work and dialogue.
China on the theme of women in tech,
focusing on women coders. In addition, Within cultural promotion the
Sweden works to change discriminato- Swedish Embassy in Mexico City has
ry legislation that presents barriers to initiated discussions on what is traditio-
women’s equal economic participation. nally expected of men and women, and
how gender stereotypes can be influen-
In several countries, including Chile, ced in the long term by reaching new
the Swedish embassy works with many and broader groups. These discussions
different actors to apply the feminist have taken popular culture as their
foreign policy. Thanks to cooperation starting point, such as how to include
with Chilean journalists, several gender equality issues in the scripts of
millions of TV viewers in the country popular soap operas (telenovelas) and
have been informed about Sweden’s using music to reach out in particularly
parental insurance. Through coopera- challenging environments. In the latter
tion with the Hay Mujeres organisation, case, the embassy hosted discussions
the embassy has created the “Embaja- between women rappers in the form of
dores Hay Mujeres” network with the Swedish artist Silvana Imam and
aim of involving men in gender equality Mexican group Batallones Femininos,
work. The embassy has also involved who use their music to promote
managers within industry in the women’s rights in Ciudad Juárez, which
#HeforShe campaign. has particularly high levels of violence
and is dominated by a macho culture.
The Swedish Embassy in Thailand has
carried out initiatives within migration The Swedish Embassy in Athens has
work to better discover and prevent carried out a number of activities
human trafficking, particularly of within the cultural sector, including a
women. The embassy also works within three-day tribute to the role of women
a number of other areas, including by in film-making and to the role of film
engaging prominent Thai personalities for gender equality. Broad discussions
to present the feminist foreign policy’s have also included issues relating to
message. The embassy is actively parental leave and other measures of
significance for a gender equal society.

96 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

The abovementioned Swedish photo gathered its forces by working at global,
exhibition Swedish Dads has genera- regional and bilateral levels and with a
ted discussion in many countries, and wide range of actors and sectors. A
has acted as a useful springboard for quarter of development cooperation’s
further dialogue and events relating to bilateral strategies include objectives
gender roles and gender equality. In relating to health, focusing on robust
Croatia, the Swedish Embassy organi- health systems, SRHR and impro-
sed a Festival of Fathers and held ved paediatric and maternal health.
round-table discussions in parliament in This support has contributed to more
connection with the exhibition, while in midwives, greater access to contracepti-
Iran the embassy has taken the exhibi- ves, improved access to safe and legal
tion on a national tour. Local photo abortions, better conditions for young
competitions for fathers have also people to make informed decisions
been held in several countries, including about their health, sexuality and
China, Uganda, Thailand, Tunisia and reproduction, and better conditions for
Switzerland. In other cases, discussions LGBTQ persons to enjoy human
have been held on parental insurance, rights. In Mozambique, the embassy
socially engaged photography, the role has helped to draw up the new national
of fathers and destructive masculinities. guidelines for abortion care, and in
The exhibition has taken different Zambia a programme with Swedish
forms and has been shown in different support that focuses on sex education
places within society, including in the in schools is thought to have helped
Shanghai Metro and at the OECD in prevent around 50 000 unplanned
Paris. Employees at some embassies pregnancies.
have also developed aspects of the
campaigns, adopting the term Embassy Programmes to strengthen women’s
Dads and using social media to talk political participation have been funded
about their own experiences as dads and in several countries, including Zim-
equal partners. babwe, Syria and Moldavia. In Somalia,
Sweden’s efforts are estimated to have
Within development cooperation, the contributed towards the proportion of
gender equality focus has been further women members of Somalia’s parlia-
increased and has led to operations ment having increased by 70 per cent in
relating to all the Rs and the objectives the 2016 election to a level of 24 per
of the feminist foreign policy. Not least, cent. The Swedish Embassy in Somalia
Sweden has focused on SRHR and has also helped to create a national

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 97

platform with government, private
sector and civil society representatives The focus on masculinity
to implement the peace, women and at the Swedish Embassy in
safety agenda. Similarly, the embassies Kinshasa, DR Congo
work in other conflict and post-conflict
nations to increase the involvement of As mentioned previously, one of the
women and girls in all aspects of peace positive results of the Swedish
work. For example, the Swedish feminist foreign policy is the new way
Embassy in Iraq is actively involved in of working, whereby the individual
the dialogue on UN Security Council parts of embassies work together in a
Resolution 1325 on women, peace and more integrated manner across
security, contributing to its implemen- operational borders. One example is
tation by supporting local civil society the work carried out by the Swedish
organisations and working to ensure Embassy in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo to promote positive
that the UN bodies there meet their
masculinity. The embassy works with
undertakings in relation to gender
boys’ and young men’s image of men
equality and women’s and girls’
using extensive support from Sida
human rights.
within the scope of development
cooperation, and has also funded a
study of masculinity together with
UN Women. Other initiatives have
included holding essay-writing
competitions for young students on
the theme of boys’ and men’s roles in
gender equality work, organising a
photo competition on the theme “un
vrai homme” (“a real man”), holding
round-table discussions on masculi-
nity and sharing regular messages on
social media with interviews from
men’s networks and activists. The
far-reaching impact is the outcome of
the work across operational areas that
has been carried out effectively
within foreign policy, culture,
promoting Sweden and development

98 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Via Sida, Sweden also supports many Several Swedish embassies have also
initiatives for women’s economic helped to create platforms for women
empowerment, including through and girls. For example, the Swedish
the regional initiative “JP RWEE” Embassy in Liberia allows women’s
carried out in seven countries: Ethiopia, rights organisations and women’s
Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, forums to hold meetings and discus-
Nigeria and Rwanda. The aim is to sions at the embassy’s premises, with
boost rural women’s potential by the aim of improving their conditions
improving access to and control over for pursuing gender equality issues
resources, services and opportunities, together. Dinner meetings have also
and by giving them a stronger voice been arranged with civil rights organi-
in the home and in society. sations and women journalists. The
embassy invites women’s rights organi-
Many missions abroad emphasis that sations to political discussions as a
the Swedish feminist foreign policy has matter of course, to ensure that women
given Sweden new arenas and access and girls have opportunities for
to other actors compared to the political participation and influence.
embassies’ traditional networks. In The platform offered by the embassy
Sarajevo and Washington, for example, gives women their own space where
the Swedish embassies report high they can build the social networks that
levels of interest among university men often already have. The embassy
students. also contributes with training for
partners on various gender equality
The feminist foreign policy has also issues, including gender budgeting and
strengthened the voice and reach of resource allocation.
certain groups, such as women’s rights
activities, through Sweden inviting Extensive work is carried out internally
them to international conferences and at missions abroad to enhance their
highlighting their work on social own expertise on gender equality
media. One example is the work of the and women’s and girls’ rights, and
Swedish Embassy in Brazil. In Angola, to sharpen working methods and
Sweden was one of a few embassies to analytical tools. The embassies work
accompany the Angolan Minister for to broaden their basis for obtaining
Gender Equality on a roadshow in information and to ensure that all
rural areas to discuss gender equality, voices and perspectives are heard. In
with a large social media presence. line with this, the Swedish Embassy in

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 99

Ethiopia established a network in
spring 2018 for gender equality issues
and women’s rights. The idea of the
network is that it should help the
embassy to analyse and understand
developments in connection with
gender equality and women’s rights in
the country, and to contribute towards
devising various events and activities
under the embassy’s management on
this theme. The network consists of
nine people with documented experien-
ce of working for gender equality and
women’s rights. The participants also
represent different sections of Ethiopi-
an society, including the public and
private sectors, academia, civil society
and the media, including social media.

The Swedish Embassy in Tbilisi,

Georgia, is another example of an
overseas agency that has carried out
extensive work to increase the level of
knowledge internally. In order to
create impact for the feminist foreign
policy externally, the embassy has
identified that its own staff need more
knowledge and understanding.
One hub for such discussions is the
embassy’s operational planning
process, which provides opportunities
for discussing what a feminist approach
can involve in concrete terms within
the embassy’s various operational areas,
as well as for regular monitoring and

100 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

7. Pursuing a contentious issue

102 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

”Few foreign policy issues ments in gender equality increase the
are as well-founded as this frequency of gainful employment and
strengthen the human capital of the
subject, but I still sometimes
whole of society. Experience has also
encounter distrust.” shown that it may be important to
Swedish embassy identify common challenges (men’s
violence against women, gender
Sweden’s feminist foreign policy is stereotypes, differences in pay and
sometimes met with resistance that responsibility for unpaid work, an
manifests itself in different ways, ageing population, digitalisation of
including through suppression techni- industry, etc.) and to allow gender
ques such as ridiculing and making equality to become an integral part of
invisible. the discussion on how solutions to the
problems can be identified and worked
At the same time, this resistance has on together.
been less than expected and has eased
in line with the continuous growth in Examples of arguments for increased
interest and support. One explanation gender equality:
for this trend is the Swedish Foreign
Service’s active work to win support for •• The global economy would grow
the policy within the fourth R, i.e. the by 26 per cent if women and men
reality in which it is operated. Swedish were equal in working life.

embassies and departments within the
Swedish Foreign Service use a number •• Research shows that the proportion
of different approaches. In addition to of household income spent on
the rights perspective, it is also impor- children’s development increases
tant to highlight research, experiences significantly when women have
and arguments which show that gender greater control over the resources
equality benefits social and economic of the household.56
development. For example, invest-
56 See e.g.:

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 103

•• If women were able to farm on the The #MeToo movement has provided
same terms as men, 100 million new opportunities to highlight and
people would avoid going hungry.57 combat men’s violence against women,
which Sweden has seized. One way is to
•• Research shows that gender equal hold internal discussions on whether
societies are more peaceful, and a and how the Swedish Foreign Service
growing number of studies indicate practises what it preaches. Another way
that peace processes and peace is to take part in discussions with
agreements that include both women external actors.
and men are more sustainable. 58
”Work on readjustments rela-
Sexual and gender-based violence is a ting to gender equality usually
central issue that can still be difficult to
touches upon key issues such
discuss and counteract in all its forms,
but there are now more tools and as the distribution of resour-
platforms for this. One example is the ces, influence and responsibili-
Council of Europe Convention on ty. Therefore gender equality
preventing and combating violence
against women and domestic violence work often arouses strong
(the Istanbul Convention), the first feelings. Some show their
legally binding document on violence concerns openly. Others
against women in Europe. The conven-
practise various forms of
tion condemns all forms of violence
and describes violence against women denial, such as denying vario-
as an expression of historically unequal us facts that point towards
power relationships between women gender inequality or that
and men. It also establishes that
unjust conditions have
violence against women is gender-based
at a structural level. In parallel with its anything to do with gender.
national work to prevent and combat Some become aggressive.
violence, Sweden also works to ensure Many protest in silence.” 59
that other countries ratify the conven-
tion and live up to its obligations.

58 UN Women, “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace: A Global Study on the
Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325”
59 Eva Amundsdotter, Mathias Ericson, Ulrika Jansson and Sophie Linghag (2015) “Motstånd och strategier i
jämställdhetsarbete” [“Opposition and strategies in gender equality work”]

104 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

•• Use dialogue with international,
Checklist for pursuing a national and local women’s organisa-
contentious issue tions, and with other human rights
and civil society organisations, to
•• Win support and encourage
support them but also to make use of
leadership for gender equality at
their knowledge, problem analysis
the highest possible level, including
and proposals which are of decisive
with both female and male political,
importance in the work for sustaina-
military, religious and economic
ble solutions.
•• Find out why critics are sceptical and
•• Work to include gender equality in
what their line of thinking is.
steering documents and checklists at
all levels. •• Counteract doubt and criticism with
clear arguments based on statistics,
•• Find like-minded actors, forge
facts and concrete examples from
alliances and drive forward issues
the environment in questions and/or
together with them or in interaction
from other contexts such as Sweden.
with them.
•• Persevere, and be prepared for
•• Broaden ownership for issues
continual wearing down and negotia-
through dialogue and cooperation
with more/new groups.
•• Headline and integrate the gender
•• Create and support platforms so that
equality issue to make it clear that it
more actors are made visible and can
fits in, and how.
•• Emphasise that greater gender
•• Establish exchanges of experience
equality is often a partial solution
and knowledge between different
to the problems vulnerable groups
actors (e.g. networks, breakfast
face, but that women and girls are
clubs, lunch circles and series of
not vulnerable groups in themselves.

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 105

Certain issues meet with more resistan-
ce than others. One such issue is sexual
and reproductive health and rights
(SRHR), including the issue of abor-
tion. Sweden is a leading defender of
SRHR, at global, national and local
levels. The ongoing dialogue with both
states and multilateral organisations
and other relevant actors is an impor-
tant tool that makes a difference.
Sweden is also a major donor to SRHR
work at all levels, and continuously
emphasises the link between SRHR
and human rights, gender equality,
health, combating HIV and sustainable
development etc. Other methods
include external and mobilising
campaigns (cf. SheDecides in chapter 4)
and dialogue and sharing experience
with like-minded parties, including
civil society.

106 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

”Pursuing issues that
not everyone agrees with
requires both courage
and patience.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 107

8. References
8.1 Documents

Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2017) “Canada’s feminist international assistance

policy – #Her voice Her Choice”
Council of the European Union (2015) “The EU action plan for gender equality and women’s
empowerment in the EU’s external relations 2016–2020”
European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2014) “Estimating the costs of gender-ba-
sed violence in the European Union”
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014) “Violence against Women: An
EU-wide survey”
Eva Amundsdotter, Mathias Ericson, Ulrika Jansson and Sophie Linghag (2015)
“Motstånd och strategier i gender equalitysarbete” [“Opposition and strategies in gender equality work”]
The Swedish Ministry of Finance, JämKAS Budget
Human Rights Watch (2017) “I Won’t Be a Doctor, and One Day You’ll Be Sick – Girls’
Access to Education in Afghanistan”
Inter-Parliamentary Union “Women in national parliaments”, as per 1 April 2018
Lee, Marlene and Jocelyn Finlay (2017), The Effect of Reproductive Health Improve-
ments on Women’s Economic Empowerment: A Review Through the Population and
Poverty (POPPOV) Lens (Washington, DC: Population and Poverty Research
Initiative and Population Reference Bureau)
McKinsey Global Institute (2015) “The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can
add $12 trillion to global growth”
National Democratic Institute (NDI), “Why women in politics”
Paffenholz et al., “Making Women Count: Assessing Women’s Inclusion and Influen-
ce on the Quality and Sustainability of Peace Negotiations and Implementation.”
Regeringskansliets föreskrifter med arbetsordning för utrikesdepartementet [“The
Government Offices’ regulations and rules of procedure for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs”] (2017)
Small Arms Survey (2016)
“Gender-Based Violence Interventions: Opportunities for Innovation”

108 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

Statistics Sweden (2004) “Könsuppdelad statistik. Ett nödvändigt medel för
jämställdhetsanalys” [“Statistics by sex. A necessary tool for gender analysis”]
The Swedish Institute:

•• Pioneering a Feminist Foreign Policy

•• Gender Equality – we’ve come a long way, haven’t we?
The Swedish Red Cross and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2015)
“IHL and Gender – Swedish experiences”
•• The Swedish Government:

•• Inrättandet av en jämställdhetsmyndighet. [“The introduction of a gender

equality agency.”] Dir. 2016:108
•• Jämställdhetspolitiken: Delad makt - delat ansvar. [“The gender equality policy:
Shared power – shared responsibility.”] Bill 1993/94:147
•• “Makt, mål och myndighet – feministisk politik för en jämställd framtid”
[“Power, goals and agency – a feminist policy for a gender-equal future”]
Government Communication 2016/17:10
•• Policyramverk för svenskt utvecklingssamarbete och humanitärt bistånd.
[“Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian
aid.”] Government Communication 2016/17:60
•• Stärkt skydd mot tvångsäktenskap och barnäktenskap. [“Stronger protection
against forced and child marriage”] SOU 2012:35
•• Utredningen om starkare skydd mot barnäktenskap, tvångsäktenskap och brott
med hedersmotiv. [“The investigation on stronger protection against child
marriage, forced marriage and ‘honour’ crimes.”] Ju 2017:06
UN Women (2015) ”Preventing conflict, transforming justice, securing the peace
- A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325”
UNWOMEN (2011) ”Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice”
UN Women (2018) ”Women in Politics 2017”

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 109

The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs:

•• Feministisk utrikespolitik – varför och vad handlar det om? Presentationsmaterial.

[“Feminist foreign policy – why, and what is it about? Presentation materials.”]
•• Swedish Foreign Service action plan for feminist foreign policy 2015–2018
•• Sveriges feministiska utrikespolitik [“Sweden’s feminist foreign policy”]
•• Sveriges feministiska utrikespolitik – exempel på tre års genomförande
[“Sweden’s feminist foreign policy – examples of three years of implementation”]
•• Sweden’s National Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Security Coun-
cil’s Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security 2016–2020
•• Statement of Government Policy on Foreign Affairs 2015, 2016 and 2018

The World Bank (2018) “Women, Business and the Law 2018”

110 Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy

8.2 Websites 8.3 Twitter #StockholmGenderForum #Genderequalworld @margotwallstrom #EqualityMakesSense #MoreWomenMorePeace #WikiGap
www.globalamå #Midwives4all #SheDecides #SwedishDads #SheTrades

Handbook Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 111

Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Switchboard: 08-405 10 00
Visiting address: Gustav Adolfs torg 1