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Gender Equality in Finnish Foreign Affairs from 2019 to 2022: Independent study commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Swedish Defence University, Department of War Studies and Military History, Strategy Division. Swedish Defence University, Department of War Studies and Military History, Functions and Perspective Division.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0950-1488
University of Helsinki, (FIN).
2022 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study reviews the ways in which Finland has promoted gender equality in its foreign affairs from January 2019 to October 2022. Drawing from expert interviews and document analysis, it examines policy and programmes across all areas of Finnish foreign policy. In addition, it undertakes a case study of Sweden and Spain, two countries that have exercised explicitly Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) in recent years, and compares these findings to the baseline analysis of Finland. The results indicate that Finland has incorporated gender equality to some extent in all areas of foreign policy, and most effectively so in the areas of development cooperation and human rights policy. Finland has also reached gender parity in diplomatic leadership as well as near parity among experts seconded to civilian crisis management missions. However, Finland’s traditional security and defence policies in particular suffer from gender amnesia, which is well demonstrated in the recent policy documents related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Finland’s ensuing NATO accession process in the spring of 2022.

When gender equality is included in security policy, such as in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, or in diplomatic efforts outside the human rights policy realm, Finland’s predefined priorities of sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, disability inclusion and intersectionality are only rarely referred to. Instead, gender equality is promoted in more narrow terms primarily by increasing women’s participation through gender balancing. This is understandable since Finland does not currently have a clear strategy to guide its international gender equality efforts.The case studies of Sweden and Spain suggest that while adopting an explicit FFP has transformative potential, it is not a magic bullet if not planned and implemented with utmost care. At the same time, the adoption process provides a window of opportunity for governments to redefine and sharpen their gender equality policies in foreign affairs, as well as reinforce coordination efforts with other governmental actors and with civil society.

Finland’s strong reputation and expertise in gender equality provides it with an excellent opportunity to develop a transformative and intersectional foreign policy, whether named as feminist or not. If backed with the necessary financial and human resources, and a carefully drafted dissemination strategy, it has all the possibilities to create something innovative and new. This is important in today’s polarised world, where gender equality, women’s rights, and human rights norms are under continuous attack.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland , 2022. , p. 35
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
War Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11320OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-11320DiVA, id: diva2:1725943
Available from: 2023-01-12 Created: 2023-01-12 Last updated: 2023-01-12Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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