Sweden on August 23, 2018 released a handbook of its "feminist foreign policy" for rights groups and foreign governments, showcasing lessons from the nation's flagship approach to promote women's rights globally.
The manual was published on the Swedish government's website. It is derived from four years of work to place gender equality at the heart of the country's international agenda.
It has been led by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom since its inception in 2014.
Sweden began its feminist foreign policy in response to the discrimination and systematic subordination that still marks the daily lives of countless women and girls around the world.
The manual stated that while gender equality was "an object in itself," it was "essential" in achieving more general government objectives, like peace, security and sustainable development.
Key Goals of the Policy
• The policy’s main goals include the promotion of economic emancipation, fighting sexual violence and improving women's political participation.
• The projects cited in the manual include an action plan for five war-torn and post-conflict nations – Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and the Palestinian Territories – building in targets for women's rights and empowerment for the first time.
• The manual also highlights Sweden's work in Congo, where it has run initiatives to promote positive masculinity in the country such as promoting social media debate on men's role in society.
• The term feminist has been used in the manual, as it is able to demonstrate what it exactly means, which is that women and men should enjoy the same rights, the same duties and the same opportunities in society.
Feminist Policy Background
In 2015, Sweden’s diplomatic ties with Riyadh were frozen after the Swedish Foreign Minister called Saudi Arabia a "dictatorship", denouncing its treatment of women in particular in a way that other western diplomats might have avoided while dealing with the oil-rich state.
Further, there has been a growing influence of women in Sweden's own foreign service with the nation seeing a rapid increase in the number of women ambassadors, from just 10 per cent in 1996 to 40 per cent in 2016.