Public lecture with Margot Wallström on feminist foreign policy
In 2014, as newly-appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström launched Sweden’s feminist foreign policy. At a public lecture in Brussels on 14 March, she spoke about the content and implementation of this policy. Ms Wallström stressed the reasons why women need to be at the negotiating table in peace talks, and the responsibility the European Union has to make a difference, in particular with regard to external relations.
"What is important is that the realisation is growing that gender equality is not a women's issue but rather a make-or-break issue. It is a make-or-break issue in itself – and for peace, security and sustainable development as a whole."
With these words, Ms Wallström began her lecture, addressing a crowded hall and an audience watching the livestream.
Despite the fact that peace processes involving both women and men result in more sustainable agreements, only four per cent of signatories of peace agreements between 1992 and 2011 were women.
"A feminist foreign policy therefore defines gender equality as a peace and security issue as well," Ms Wallström explained.
This is also why the Swedish Government supports women in mediator networks, for example in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Ms Wallström reminded the audience of the success of the Millennium Development Goals in making it possible for more girls to attend school, but that much remains to be done, as she showed through a number of concrete examples.
"It is clear that we have to start with the facts if want to make a difference for the 'three Rs'," Margot Wallström said, refering to women's representation, rights and resources.
Ms Wallström's message to the EU was clear: the EU has an important role in showing that there is a link between internal and external policy. The EU must deliver for women and girls, lead by example and ensure that gender equality permeates all external action.
"A gender perspective should also be part of the EU political dialogue with third countries, our neighbourhood policy, the Eastern Partnership, and our enlargement and trade policy," Ms Wallström emphasised.
Ms Wallström recounted that in the EU Foreign Affairs Council she asks whether women are part of the processes, but that sometimes she waits to see whether anyone else will raise the issue.
"Why does it always have to be me?" she asked rhetorically.
The lecture was arranged jointly by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the European Union.
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