The Foreign Service Institute, in partnership with the Embassy of Germany in the Philippines, held a Mabini Dialogue entitled “Feminist Foreign Policy: More than a Label? Gender Mainstreaming in International Relations” on 19 April 2023 at the Carlos P. Romulo Library, Department of Foreign Affairs, Pasay City.
The Dialogue, which featured a panel discussion among the Heads of Missions of five European Embassies in the Philippines, explored different perspectives on mainstreaming gender equality in international relations and diplomacy. Dr. Carolyn Sobritchea, President of the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc. and Professorial Lecturer at UP Diliman, served as moderator.
For Germany, France, and Spain, adopting a feminist foreign policy was a decisive step to actively incorporate a gender component in policy-making at both domestic and international levels, analyze gender gaps in implementation areas and develop strategies to address the root causes of these gaps. Using the label feminist helps bring into focus their governments’ gender objectives. These countries, together with The Netherlands and Finland, have pledged to implement a gender equality perspective in all policies centered around the “three R’s” — rights, representation, and resources — based on a fourth R, reality.
Among the positive outcomes cited by the panelists include varying levels of success in gender parity, particularly in their respective foreign ministries; best practices in certain areas of external policy, such as development cooperation and project funding; and progress in critical areas, such as women’s education and health. For some, the attainment of women’s visibility is a huge achievement.
Despite all the progress in gender equality pursuit, the panelists acknowledged that structural and policy challenges remain. In domestic policies, some experience difficulties implementing quota policies toward gender parity, and some have observed the slow pace at which women progress in their careers. On the international level, the nexus between women, peace, and security should make for an agenda that views and involves women as agents of change and recognizes women’s full potential in conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Several panelists have recognized the challenges of extending the gender perspective into the hardcore foreign policy issues of security and defense, strengthening the perspective on intersectionality in foreign affairs, and encouraging the participation of men and boys in discussions about feminism and gender equality in international relations.
The Dialogue served as a sharing and learning experience for the guest speakers and the participants. The event concluded with a consensus that the international community should continue to work together toward women empowerment and gender equality and that a continuing conversation on feminist foreign policy is an integral part of this endeavor.
The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, officers and staff of the DFA, and representatives from other government agencies, media, and the academe.