The Volokh Conspiracy

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"Sweden says it will pursue a feminist foreign policy to counter macho Russian aggression …"


The Swedish minesweeper HMS Kullen, left, and a guard boat in Namdo Bay, Sweden, on Oct. 21, 2014, on their fifth day of searching for a suspected foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency via AP)

"… even if no one really knows what that means." An interesting article by Nathalie Rothschild (Foreign Policy); here's an excerpt, though you should read the whole piece:

Margot Wallström, the newly minted foreign minister, has said that under her leadership Sweden will become the only country in the world to conduct a "feminist foreign policy." That's a perspective that flows from U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark measure that recognized both the disproportionate impact war has on women and the role women must play in ensuring peace and security….

By empowering women, the argument goes, there are better chances of snuffing out wars before they start and of ending them in more equitable ways. However, it is less clear what such a feminist foreign policy has to say about the old-school power politics that Putin has helped resuscitate in the past year.

During a recent debate in the Swedish parliament, Wallström said that her feminist approach is based on the American political scientist Joseph Nye's concept of "smart power." "The tools of foreign policy can, in varying degrees, be hard as well as soft. The situation at hand determines this," Wallström said. "The half of the population that so far has been almost systematically excluded and forgotten—namely, women—will now be included."

Asked how she believes a feminist foreign policy will help end Russian aggression, Wallström suggested it would be useful to review women's participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and to look at what it does to address the problems women face—a statement exactly as vague as it sounds …