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‘Destructive masculinities’ and ‘women mediators’: Conceptualising gender in feminist foreign policy

Brännlund, Emma


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Emma Brannlund
Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations


This paper analyses Sweden’s agenda of feminist foreign policy (FFP). In 2014, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, proudly announced that the newly formed Social Democrat and Green coalition Government would pursue a new foreign policy based on feminist principles. This pioneering approach to foreign policy aimed to strive towards gender equality and the fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights by focusing on six main areas: human rights, freedom from violence, peacebuilding, political participation, economic independence, and sexual- and reproductive health.

The reception, both nationally and internationally, has varied from praise to concern. Feminist scholars such as Jacqui True (2015) have argued that feminist foreign policy is necessary to achieve global peace and security, while others have argued that feminist foreign policy does not deal with the “real threats” facing Sweden.

While the debates of the strengths and weaknesses of feminist foreign policy are certainly important, for the purpose of this paper I am interested in analysing the discourse by the Swedish Government in relation to the actual policies adopted and implemented. I will specifically focus on how gender and gender equality are conceptualised in central policy documents published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. How is gender defined and understood? Who is the subject of feminist foreign policy? What is gender equality and how can it be achieved? Exploring how gender and gender equality are understood by the Swedish Government, we can trace how the discourse asymmetrically shifts between essentialised bodies, gender norms, and gender practices.


Brännlund, E. (2018, April). ‘Destructive masculinities’ and ‘women mediators’: Conceptualising gender in feminist foreign policy. Paper presented at 7th Annual IFjP Conference, San Francisco, California

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 7th Annual IFjP Conference
Conference Location San Francisco, California
Start Date Apr 2, 2018
End Date Apr 3, 2018
Acceptance Date Apr 2, 2018
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 7th Annual IFjP Conference