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  • Writer's pictureThe Gender Security Project


Updated: Jul 11

On March 1, 2023, Germany's first female and feminist Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock launched the guidelines for the German Federal Foreign Office on "Shaping a Feminist Foreign Policy." The guidelines broadly call for the state to strive toward overcoming entrenched power inequalities and discrimination, and working toward gender equality both in bilateral and multilateral contexts. The guidelines underline the idea that if women are not safe, no one is safe.

Unlike most other policies that have been released and adopted so far, the German guidelines are expansive. They focus on intersectionality rather than just women as a homogenous identity. They also acknowledge that budgets, foreign trade and investment, and climate packages have a gendered impact. Even as it affirms intersectional feminism and the importance of reflecting postcolonial realities, it does not affirm a strong commitment to anti-racist strategies. The guidelines also undertake to allocate 85% of project funding on a gender-sensitive basis, and 8% on a gender-transformative basis by 2025, using the OECD criteria as a guide.

The guidelines call for arms control and disarmament, and call for the deployment of approaches relevant to and reflective of postcolonial realities. They indicate that victims of nuclear testing shall be recognized and compensated, and seek to strengthen Germany's arms export control regime by paying close attention to the risk of arms being used to perpetrate sexual and gender-based violence and violence of any form against women and girls, in line with the Arms Trade Treaty.

However, the role of arms facilitating such forms of violence has not been mentioned. This risk assessment is mandatory for EU, NATO, and NATO-equivalent nations well before exporting arms, but this has not been named. ahead of exporting arms and weapons in EU, NATO. A major point of cognitive dissonance, however, is that Germany is the fifth largest arms exporter in the world, and its feminist foreign policy does not prioritize the reduction of its arms exports, or the need to reduce militarization in itself.

The guidelines go beyond the binary vis-a-vis gender, and acknowledge the mounting backlash from anti-feminist actors (state and non-state). In doing so, the guidelines call for the prioritization of women and LGBTQI* people.

Overall, the focus is on Rights, Representation, and Resources. Under the Rights parameter, the guidelines advocates respect for and the promotion of the rights of women and girls world over, and acknowledges relevant instruments such as CEDAW, and recognizes the lack of laws to address sexual harassment at the workplace in 46 countries and to address protection against dismissal during pregnancy in 42 countries, as well as the use of the law to obstruct women from working in 86 countries. The Representation paradigm calls for the equitable participation of women in all areas of society and the representation of women and marginalized groups in foreign policy.

Under the resources paradigm, it campaigns for women and marginalized groups to gain equal access to resources, including financial, labour, natural, and immaterial resources. The guidelines indicate an intention to allocate 85% of project funding based on GG1 of the OECD DAC, and 8% on a gender-transformative basis. The guidelines centre the domestic and the international as the core focus areas, making the intended policy coherent. It also aims to deploy 100% of humanitarian assistance in gender-sensitive, gender-targeted manner where necessary, and centres peacebuilding, climate change, energy diplomacy, economic policy, representation across a range of fields, and the provision of equal opportunities and discrimination-free work environments.

It centres mainstreaming, multipliers, gender-budgeting, and monitoring as the main instruments, suggesting that it will follow the monitoring and evaluation plan established under its third National Action Plan under the WPS Agenda. It also indicates the intention to adopt a forum for critical exchange with experts on all areas and aspects of feminist foreign policy.

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