An increasing number of countries have integrated a gender perspective in their foreign policy with the understanding that a gender approach is beneficial for all citizens. The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, France, the United Kingdom and Canada have been pioneers in this regard. International organisations such as the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations do the same in their respective co-operation policies and external actions. Notably, gender is mainstreamed in the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and progress in achieving these goals is measured regularly.
In 2014 Sweden became the first country to officially pursue a feminist foreign policy. Its aim is to contribute to gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls.
In addition to the fact that gender equality is a human right in itself, the idea of a feminist foreign policy is gaining traction in the light of a growing body of research suggesting that greater gender equality would make the world more sustainable, richer and safer. This understanding has grown as a result of the work of the United Nations on the link between women, peace and security, and the 2030 Agenda.
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine the different approaches through which the gender perspective in foreign policy can help promote gender equality and women’s rights. It should identify priority areas for action and draw up a resolution addressed to Council of Europe member States, focusing on experiences and good practices, and subsequently make recommendations to the member States. The Assembly’s work should be seen as a contribution to the debate which is already under way in a number of member States, as a possible source of inspiration for others and as a tool to make progress towards the achievement of the SDGs.