Sweden's feminist foreign policy

Equality between women and men is a fundamental aim of Swedish foreign policy. Ensuring that women and girls can enjoy their fundamental human rights is both an obligation within the framework of our international commitments, and a prerequisite for reaching Sweden's broader foreign policy goals on peace, and security and sustainable development.

Countries worldwide, including Sweden, suffer a systematic subordination of women and girls. The goal of achieving gender equality is fundamentally a human rights issue. There is also a clear link between a high level of gender equality and peaceful and democratic societies.

Discrimination against women and girls and denial of women’s human rights is in many places a growing threat to peace and security, as well as sustainable development. The oppression of women is an issue that requires increased attention in central, broad policy analysis.

A human rights perspective includes both civil and political rights that give women a voice and influence. It also means strengthening women’s economic, social and cultural rights – including a reasonable standard of living, basic education, good health and the right to decide over their own sexuality and reproduction.

To bring about change requires that gender-based violence be thwarted both in peacetime and in war. This is done by breaking impunity for gender-based violence and to actively work against discrimination and gender stereotypical norms. It is crucial to strengthen women’s economic and political influence, including the contribution to conflict prevention, peaceful conflict resolution, and consolidation of peace at all levels. Women’s participation in mediation and negotiation is both about equality and equal opportunity, as peace agreements provide structure and direction for the entire society after a war.


Objectives and actions

Sweden is the first country in the world to pursue a feminist foreign policy. By applying a systematic gender perspective on the foreign policy, including peace, security, trade and development efforts, Sweden can contribute to real progress for gender equality and for the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls. To achieve results that strengthen the rights, representation and resources of all women and girls, the government has developed six long term objectives for 2015-2018. Read more about these objectives here.

Since its launch in October 2014, the foreign policy has made its mark at multilateral, regional and bilateral level, and in relation to all the objectives of the Foreign Service’s action plan.

Efforts to achieve the action plan’s six external objectives includes for example:

  • Publishing 135 country reports on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
  • Making the women, peace and security agenda a top priority for Sweden's term on the United Nations Security Council (2017-2018).
  • Actively pushed to ensure that a gender perspective is incorporated into the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the 2030 Agenda.
  • Taking part in initiating the global #SheDecides movement.

For more examples from three years of implementation of the feminist foreign policy, read the Foreign Service’s mid-term review.

The full action plan for Sweden’s feminist foreign policy 2015–2018 can be found here.




Keep checking back as we add more information on the work being done in this important area.