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  • Writer's pictureThe Gender Security Project

The Netherlands

Updated: Jul 11

The Netherlands announced its intention to adopt a Feminist Foreign Policy in November 2022. Drawing from its own constitution that, under Article 1, prioritizes equality, the Netherlands aims at addressing systemic gender inequality, and to support those that are especially vulnerable, such as LGBTIQ+ people. In an article on the Government website, it states that: “Opting for a feminist foreign policy means that equal rights and equality become the main focus of all aspects of Dutch foreign policy. It also means that the Netherlands joins a group of pioneer countries that are campaigning internationally for gender equality, including Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Canada, Mexico and Chile.”

The Netherlands suggests that feminist foreign policy implies protecting human rights and promoting meaningful participation in decision-making by women and LGBTIQ+ people, and acknowledges the three Rs, namely rights, representation, and resources, and adds a fourth – namely reality check. It affirms that women all over the world must be able to claim their universal rights and know that they are safeguarded from violence (rights), be represented, and take part in political decisions (representation). It suggests that there must be sufficient resources to achieve these goals (resources), and acknowledges that circumstances differ around the world, and a particular approach will not have the same effect everywhere. It thus acknowledges that policy goals will have to be implemented in ways that are appropriate to the local context (reality check).

The Dutch Foreign Policy has focused on promoting women’s rights and gender equality for some time. It states that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been devoting a great deal of attention to ensuring meaningful participation by women, and to the effects that policy has on women, in grant awards, diplomacy and during negotiations at the EU and other international institutions, for example. The Netherlands also promotes women’s rights, gender equality, sexual rights and reproductive health, providing funding for activities and programmes, for instance. It dedicated a budget of € 510 million (2021-2025) to its SDG 5 Fund, which happens to be one of the biggest funds for women’s rights and gender equality in the world. Its resources are used for the promotion of women’s participation in political decision-making, peace processes and reconstruction. The fund also supports female entrepreneurship, women’s rights organisations and human rights defenders. The support provided also includes direct funding for women’s organisations. It also centres accountability for conflict-related sexual violence, homophobia, and discrimination.

The plans ahead include placing equality and parity on the agenda for talks with other countries more often; making gender analysis a standard part of strategy and policymaking procedures; asking ‘what will this mean for women and girls, LGBTIQ+ people and minorities?’ more often when considering grant awards, or making and implementing policy; involving and consulting local civil society organisations, including women’s organisations, in a more meaningful way in policy- and decision-making processes; and performing interim evaluations of policy to establish its impact on women and LGBTIQ+ people, and making adjustments if necessary. The intention is to centre coherence: as everything begins at home, the Ministry will also continue to look critically at its own organisation, increasing its capacity for this through training and knowledge development.

The Netherlands suggests that the policy will be fleshed out in more detail this year with input from broad-based consultation sessions. The Netherlands is also set to host an international conference on feminist foreign policy in autumn 2023, in order to help expand knowledge and facilitate discussion.

However, as of May 2023, it released a highlight of a year of Feminist Foreign Policy, where it centered, among other things, the support it offered to Ukraine through an Accountability Conference, its prioritization of equality, sanctions against sexual violence, and civil society engagement.


1) Feminist foreign policy explained

2) Highlights of a year of feminist foreign policy

3) Anne Jellema, Hivos’ nine-point plan for a Feminist Foreign Policy for the Netherlands

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