US: Towards a feminist foreign policy?

US: Towards a feminist foreign policy?

In its first 100 days the Biden-Harris administration has made unprecedented progress towards implementing a feminist foreign policy, according to a new report. 

The Coalition for Feminist Foreign Policy, formed by over 80 women’s rights and civil society organisations, has launched a new scorecard to assess the US progress on gender equality for the year ahead. The scorecard looks at four categories: policy articulation, leadership and structures, funding and accountability, which are measured against the Coalition’s recommendations to the government. 

The review found that the Biden administration has made great strides in policy articulation and leadership. It has revoked harmful policies undermining issues like climate change, immigration and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and created a White House Council to address issues of race and advance gender equality and equity. 

“From ending the global gag rule to reaffirming that reproductive rights are human rights, the administration has taken clear steps to undo the harmful policies of the past four years, and to protect and advance sexual and reproductive health care around the world,” said Alexis MgGill Johnson, President of Planned Parenthood federation of America.

“This is more than building back better,” says Serra Sippel, President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). “Never before has a US president expressed support for sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is critical to achieve gender equality.”

In the areas of funding and accountability, however, the report notes some shortfalls.

“When looking at the issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the first 100 days, the administration has heavily focused on domestic issues rather than global ones and has not yet demonstrated transformative action on US foreign policy,” said Aria Grabowski, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW). “While the budget details that have been released are inadequate to evaluate at this point, there are concerning indications that this agenda may not be as well-resourced as the Coalition has recommended.”

“Only one per cent of global gender-focused aid gets to local feminist organisations,” said Latanya Mapp Frett, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. “These grassroots groups need investment and urgent support in their work toward gender justice globally.”

So far, the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to gender equality looks promising, but doesn’t go far enough. The Coalition have stated they will be reviewing its progress after a year, when more information can be collected, to evaluate whether or not a meaningful and inclusive feminist foreign policy has been implemented. 

Read the full report here.

Featured image: President Biden and Vice president Harris, August 12, 2020. Photo by Adam Schultz / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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