Are the feminists taking over? A critical analysis of Sweden and Canada's feminist foreign policy and implications in the Middle East
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This research examines the new political phenomenon of feminist foreign policy, which aims to recenter foreign policy construction and implementation in a humanist framework. Feminist foreign policy arose in the 2010's as a response to traditional foreign policy approaches, which have not been effective in combatting systemic violence and inequalities upheld by nationstates. Sweden and Canada, in 2014 and 2017, respectively, were the first to launch feminist foreign policy initiatives and pledged to apply a human rights approach in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment in their foreign affairs strategies. Drawing upon government handbooks, primary sources, and both international and transnational feminist theory, this research will address several questions. Can a state feminism adequately and comprehensively serve the need for a feminist consciousness in the seemingly "gender-neutral" field of international relations? How does a state feminism measure up to a transnational feminist activism? This paper will attempt to answer these questions through a comparative critical analysis of both Sweden and Canada's contemporary feminist foreign policy agendas. Further, this study will analyze the impact of a feminist foreign policy in the Middle East and North African region. Both analytical works and government-published handbooks and statistics describe these Feminist foreign policy initiatives as a strategy to promote and attain a more just global order. This research will suggest that foreign policy development could benefit from the reintroduction of traditionally "feminine" areas of academic discourse, such as phenomenology and care ethics, to international relations. However, the efficacy of a state feminism must be addressed in conversation with other feminist approaches, such as transnational feminist activism, which includes local initiatives.
Honors thesis. B.A. in International Relations, Spring 2021, Boston University.
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