speach Feminist Foreign Policy

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13 March 2015
Conference on “Human security through the
perspective of gender equality”
Host: Gender Equality Agency of BiH
Location: Grand Hall, BiH Parliament.
Speech by H.E. Ambassador Fredrik Schiller about the Swedish
feminist foreign policy – What does it mean?
Excellencies, Ministers, members of Parliament, ladies and
gentlemen, dear friends;
During this week of Women’s International Day we
highlight the work of women activists, we discuss gender
equality and we mark 20 year since the Beijing declaration.
Then, the other 51 weeks of the year, things go back to
Let me remind ourselves what is still “normal” for women
around the world today in the first months of 2015:
One in 3 women will have experienced some
physical, or sexual violence, often by men that they
have close relations with;
27 girls are every minute (every minute) forced into
early marriage, often to men twice their age, or older;
and they have no choice, no say, in the matter;
Women today still have just 60 - 75 % of the
wages that men have for the same jobs; and ……we
are in Parliament today
Only 22 % of all national parliamentarians globally
were women as of last January; that is, fewer than 1 in
4 MPs are women.
So, whatever have we globally been doing since Beijing?
Well, as you know tens of thousands of really serious actors
have indeed worked hard to affect positive change since
Beijing, but more is clearly needed still.
I am proud to represent a government which takes this
seriously; and that would like to change this picture – not
only today, this week; but over time, all the time and as a
clear and transparent priority in all its work.
A couple of days ago all the male ministers in the
Swedish government were among the first in the world
to all join the UN campaign “HeforShe”.
This campaign unites men around the world who are
willing to fight for women’s rights. We all benefit from
gender equal societies. This is why more men should
become active agents for change; and this is why also I this
week joined the campaign. I now encourage the leading
men of Bosnia and Herzegovina to do the same.
Sweden has also adopted a feminist foreign policy. Let
me tell you a little bit about what that means to us;
The basis for change can be summarized in three words:
Rights, representation and resources
Firstly, respect for human rights and the rule of law
remain key starting points for every discussion about
gender equality. Ensuring women's rights and access to
justice are central to achieving the overall human rights
agenda. This is far from the case today, when women's
rights often are seen as a specific and separate issue. Well,
it is not.
Secondly, increasing women's representation at all
levels in society - in governance and in international
peacebuilding efforts, throughout our economies and core
institutions – it is essential for achieving gender equality.
Only through women's active participation at different
levels of decision-making can we transform our agendas so
that the needs, and interests, of women are truly reflected
and addressed throughout.
Today’s theme: “Human security through the perspective of
gender equality” is all about making women heard, because
women’s security is not always the same as men’s.
Reality on the ground gives considerable scope for
improvement; from 1992 to 2011, fewer than 4 per cent of
signatories of peace agreements, and less than 10 per cent
of peace negotiators, were women.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a law that stipulates that at
least 40 % of the least represented gender should be part of
the parliaments. We know that this law is not
implemented, since only 23,8 % of the House of
Representatives are women.
I do not believe the argument that there are not enough
competent women around. Aida Hadzialic, is now the
youngest minister of all time in the Swedish Government.
She is originally from Foca.You should all be proud. We are.
And I am sure that there are many more smart young
women politicians in this country. We would encourage
you all to stand for election in 2018.
Finally, resources to achieve these ends should be
increased and channeled to make sure that key gender
goals are adequately funded. In a sample of six postconflict countries, less than 8% of spending was budgeted
to empower women, or to promote gender equality. I am
glad that gender budgeting is part of the Bosnia and
Herzegovina Gender Action Plan. This is a good basis for
change here.
Dear colleagues, dear friends;
Sweden will continue to give priority to the following
five interdependent pillars, which we think are essential
to achieve gender equality targets and for improving the
lives of women and girls everywhere.
1. Rule of law and human rights;
2. Combatting gender-based and sexual violence both
in peace time and in conflict;
In the rural areas of Bosnia and Hercegovina 49 % of the
women have been subject to violence. Every second woman
has been maltreated, often by the man she shares her life
with. Sweden has for many years through “Kvinna to
Kvinna” projects supported these women and worked for a
change. This work continues on a broad basis.
3. Sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The issue of women's reproductive rights is an issue that
concerns the whole of society, men and women alike.
Involving men in this work is therefore just as crucial as
increasing women's representation in relevant forums.
4. We will integrate feminist perspectives in our work
to promote sustainable development. My embassy
takes this quite seriously and will from now on strengthen
our work to ensure all our development projects are
designed, monitored and evaluated, from a gender
5. We will continue to work for the economic
empowerment of women, because we know that this
will lead to overall economic growth and
The IMF has recently showed that not only women and
men gain on closing the gender gap in the labour market –
but that the whole global economy does. The study finds a
positive correlation between gender equality and per capita
GDP, the level of competitiveness, and human development
indicators. (And do not forget who runs the IMF.)
So, in closing;
The way to get more gender equality in the labour market is
to combat discrimination; but also to promote women's
legal rights with regard to inheritance, land acquisition and
possession, as well as equal access to various social services.
Bosnia and Herzegovina already has good laws with regard
to this. Now we should encourage more women to take
advantage of them.
We Swedes have said, and I confirm this today, that we will
stand behind this country on its way towards the European
Union - and that the road towards the EU goes through
reforms and via good economic development. Gender
equality leads to economic development. BiH simply
cannot afford to continue to largely ignore this fact. So
improved gender equality between Bosnian men and
women is indeed an urgent thing to fix.
Thank you. Hvala.
Sarajevo, 13 March 2015/fs