Updated: Aug 4
In March 2022, Chilean Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola announced that Chile was developing a Feminist Foreign Policy, and called it a distinguishing hallmark and vanguard element of its foreign policy. Acknowledging that foreign policy agendas will be incomplete if they do not take into account plural society, Chile considers its intention to adopt a feminist foreign policy consistent with its commitment to human rights and parity within the constitutional process, which was underway at the time.
The policy is intended to involve concrete actions to mainstream the diverse and heterogenous approach to gender as a norm at the head of the ministry of foreign affairs, and not to be relegated to smaller departments.
The aim is to bring more women into decision making processes at all political levels, strengthen visibility and transparency in favour of gender, and implement regulatory and normative changes to adapt the working language in the foreign ministry and transform it into an inclusive and non-discriminatory one.
The policy is intended to centre the WPS agenda and the CEDAW, the promotion of the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and LGBTQ people, and to address violence against women and girls.
While the policy itself is yet to be adopted and its finer details yet to be published, Chile has established a track record that points in the direction of this initiative being meaningful. It has adopted gender clauses in its trade agreements, and has set up what it calls a “feminist government,” where in a pool of 24 ministers, 14 are women. In 2020, Chile signed the Global Trade and Gender Agreement (GTAGA) with Canada and New Zealand, which Colombia, Mexico, and Peru joined in 2022.
The GTAGA aims at supporting exports by women-led organizations. In an event in September 2022, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonia Urrejola, indicated at a High-Level Event within the auspices of the 77th UN GA meeting, that Chile was working on a feminist foreign policy that seeks to promote initiatives in all available spaces to combat inequalities, calling for action both in bilateral relations and in relations with regional and multilateral engagements.
The minister highlighted the need for incorporating women in substantive ways to address structural problems such as the climate crisis, economic restrictions, food security, pandemics, migration, and a range of other phenomena. She also highlighted the need to bring more women into decision-making processes, and emphasized her ministry's commitment to incorporate a gender perspective in all its work - ranging from including gender chapters in trade agreements to the adoption of memoranda of understanding at the bilateral and multilateral level for the promotion of women's rights and dissidences before different multilateral fora.
In January 2023, the Chilean government invited experts to offer up advisory on the development of a Feminist Foreign Policy, and the event noted that Chile would unveil its policy in March. So far, we haven’t quite seen a policy document detailing the approaches to a Feminist Foreign Policy.
Content of the Feminist Foreign Policy (Addendum dated June 18, 2023)
On June 13, 2023, Chile announced its feminist foreign policy, becoming the first country in South America and the second country in Latin America to do so. The policy fundamentally seeks to reinforce the key principles of democracy, human rights defense, and prioritizes the establishment of gender equality and non-discrimination as guiding principles.
The policy promotes participation, inclusion, transversality, and intersectionality. It aims to ensure that the policy is participative and that its benefits reach everyone within the political and commercial spheres. It is also transversal in that it calls for coordinated action in all areas of the Foreign Ministry's work and engagement. It is also intersectional - as it recognizes the prevalence of structural violence and the impacts of overlapping identities in their interactions with varying contexts. The policy also prioritizes coherence, where it looks inward at the prevailing institutional structure and culture, and calls for a review of key regulations, processes, and protocols in order to accelerate the implementation of the changes necessary to reduce gender gaps. As part of this, the Chilean feminist foreign policy aims to increase the presence of women in embassies. Further, in order to ensure continuity and to consolidate a policy that aims for greater participation of women in decision-making spaces, it proposes the creation of an Advisory Committee of Experts that will present a strategy to authorities to make progress on parity by 2030.
The Chilean Feminist Foreign Policy also reflects Chile's pioneering stance in incorporating gender-related provisions and chapters in a range of free-trade agreements, in order to open up avenues for enhanced participation in international trade. Buttressing this, the Chilean Feminist Foreign Policy aims at strengthening this area of focus with more gender-informed data, and enables sharing experiences in developing co-responsibility policies. The policy also aims to pave the way for more policies that can enhance and address issues like gender equality and dialogue in international organizations.
To understand its impact, Chile also has established monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to measure the outcomes that ensue from these measures. Recognizing the vacuum left behind by countries that introduced feminist foreign policies without follow-up measures, it aims to set up a Gender Affairs Division to coordinate existing and future efforts. It has also set up a dedicated website with clear tracking, regularly updated information and explanatory material, and clearly articulated monitoring mechanisms.
1) Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola: "The development of a feminist foreign policy will be a distinguishing hallmark and a vanguard element of our diplomacy". https://www.minrel.gob.cl/foreign-minister-antonia-urrejola-the-development-of-a-feminist
2) Why Chile’s New Constitution Is a Feminist Victory https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/02/15/chile-constitution-gender-parity-feminist-protest/
4) Five key pieces of information about the Feminist Foreign Policy https://marcachile.cl/en/imagen-de-chile/five-key-pieces-of-information-about-the-feminist-foreign-policy/
5) Chile launches Feminist Foreign Policy plan https://en.mercopress.com/2023/06/13/chile-launches-feminist-foreign-policy-plan
6) Chile joins countries like France, Germany, Canada and Spain in launching South America’s first Feminist Foreign Policy https://www.gob.cl/en/news/chile-joins-countries-like-france-germany-canada-and-spain-in-launching-south-americas-first-feminist-foreign-policy/#:~:text=In%20this%20context%2C%20in%20March,in%20Chile's%20foreign%20policy%20work.