Monday, 23.10.2023 - Monday, 23.10.2023 - Renaissance Brussels Hotel

Walking the Talk: Feminist Foreign Policy in Action

Join our international conference on Feminist Foreign Policy in cooperation with FEPS on 23 October. Register now!

A strong intersectional lens to rethink existing power structures

Over the past years, Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) has gained significant ground in policy discourse. Many countries in Europe and worldwide have proclaimed a feminist approach to their external actions. Why? FFP offers a strong intersectional lens to rethink existing power structures both in global politics and societies. This way, it enables deep processes of self-reflection and rethinking external policies. 

What can be learned from the existing concepts and best practices? How can they be applied to EU external action? These are only some of the questions we will address at our conference "Walking the Talk: Feminist Foreign Policy in Action" on 23 October from 9:30 - 16:45 in cooperation with FEPS.

Taking place during the European Parliament’s Gender Equality Week, the conference will feature prominent speakers such as Benedicta Lasi, Secretary General of Socialist International, and Svenja Schulze, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. Join us for a day of discussions on how to apply feminist thinking to selected fields of EU external action, such as EU trade policy, the reconstruction of Ukraine, and EU development policy.

In adddition, the conference will formally launch the Feminist Foreign Policy Progressive Voices Collective (FFPPC), which will develop policy recommendations for a European Feminist Foreign Policy approach. It is co-chaired by Ann Linde (Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Sweden) and Benedicta Lasi (Secretary General of Socialist International, Ghana). Learn more about the project here.

Venue address: Renaissance Brussels Hotel (Rue du Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels)

Please note that the registration for this in-person event is closed. To follow it nevertheless, check out our live coverage during the conference on Monday at our twitter channel @FES_Europa.

For questions, please contact: agnes.mach(at)


Introductory Remarks (9:30 - 9:40)

by Christiane Kesper, Director of the FES EU Office

Impulse session: Why do we still need a feminist foreign policy? (Re)defining its meaning (9:40 - 10:15)

Keynote speakers: 

  • Ann Linde, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • Benedicta Lasi, Secretary General, Socialist International
  • Jennifer Thomson, Senior Lecturer, University of Bath

Chaired by Ainara Bascuñana, Head of Communication, FEPS

Sweden had been the pioneer of feminist foreign policy by daring to launch this transformative policy approach long before many others followed suit. Since then, various countries have joined the club, including France, Canada, Spain and Mexico, and most recently Germany and Chile. Therefore, this talk involving key voices in the field shall set the general tone of the conference. Under what circumstances did FFP emerge? To what extent have its interpretations evolved over time? Do we all mean the same when we speak about FFP? Why do we still need it?

Panel I: FFP in times of crises: making the WPS Agenda a must-have rather than a cosmetic afterthought (10:15 – 11:30)

Panel discussion with:

  • Daniela Sepúlveda Soto, Project Director, Plataforma para la Política Exterior Feminista en América Latina (PEFAL)
  • Jonna Naumanen, Senior Advisor to the EU Ambassador for Gender and Diversity, European External Action Service (EEAS)
  • Romana Michelon, Secretary General, WIIS Brussels
  • Salma Malik (joining online), Associate Professor at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad

Chaired by Laeticia Thissen, Senior Policy Analyst for Gender Equality, FEPS

As the world has been facing multiple external crises beyond its borders, achieving substantial increases in responsiveness requires the capacity to integrate gendered consideration in adhoc, emergency decision-making from the early stages. Precisely as immediate responses are required to intervene in conflict-ridden or other areas impacted by natural disasters, the ability to mobilise gender-sensitive assessment tools becomes all the more essential. The implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS Agenda) is a precondition to ensure that the rights, agency and protection of women and girls are guaranteed at alltimes and to secure an equitable role for women at all stages of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peace-building and post-conflict rehabilitation. Drawing on existing practices, experts in this panel will, amongst others, discuss how the EU and other international bodies can become trend-setter in ensuring that FFP is no longer considered a cosmetic afterthought but much rather becomes an integral part of any external action to consider the real policy impacts on people in the receiving countries.

Panel II: Applying a feminist lens to the (post-war) recovery and transformation of Ukraine (11:45 – 13:00)

Panel discussion with:

  • Hanna Shelest, Head of the Security Programmes, Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” and Editor-in-Chief at UA: Ukraine Analytica
  • Halyna Padalko, Member of the Women’s Branch of SD Platform in Ukraine; Representative of the NGO Progresylni
  • Elene Panchulidze, Research Coordinator, European Partnership for Democracy
  • Natalie Pauwels, Head of Unit ‘Inter-Institutional Relations, Coordination of Relief and Reconstruction’, Ukraine Service, DG NEAR, European Commission

Chaired by Andriy Korniychuk, Policy Analyst on International Affairs, FEPS

Ukrainian women play a key role in their country's war effort within defence forces as well as in humanitarian response and providing critical services in local communities. In spite of their active involvement at all levels on the ground, this well-established shift away from stereotypical gendered roles in Ukrainian society fails to be mirrored in its political decisionmaking, where women remain heavily underrepresented. This reality has been aggravated by the war-induced centralization of power and the need for quick decision-making to the detriment of consulting civil society. This makes it all the more urgent to ensure that women and civil society are involved in strategic decision-making on the post-war recovery and transformation of Ukraine – not only to use the reconstruction as an opportunity to meet the needs of the whole society, women included, but to profit from their extensive knowledge about the situation on the ground. Therefore, panellists will explore how we can ensure that a feminist lens is applied and support building an equitable future in peace-building processes.

Panel III: Untangling the hidden gender bias in external trade policy (13:45 – 15:00)

Panel discussion with:

  • Inma Rodríguez-Piñero, MEP, Socialists & Democrats
  • Gea Meijers, Coordinator of Working Group Gender and Trade, WIDE+
  • Catherine West, Member of Parliament and Shadow Foreign Minister for Asia and the Pacific, United Kingdom

Chaired by Romy Klimke, Senior Researcher and Lecturer, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

It is often assumed that trade policy will have a positive impact on people’s economic lives. Yet, feminist research has demonstrated how trade laws are far from gender-neutral. Welfare gains are rarely distributed in a gender-equitable manner. From a human-rights perspective, these observations are worrisome. Any FFP approach, therefore, needs to envision how to operate the necessary paradigm shift to better address the inherent power struggles in international trade policies. This panel discussion will thus explore how to move the focus away from state interest towards the multifaceted vulnerabilities and well-being of people.

Closing session: FFP as a vector for sustainable development goals and human rights (15:30 – 16:30)

Panel discussion with:

  • Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
  • Arancha González Layla, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation of Spain and former Executive Director of the International Trade Center
  • Heléne Fritzon, MEP and Vice President of the Socialists & Democrats
  • Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (joining online), President of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and of National Defence and Coordinating Minister of Natural and Cultural Heritage of Ecuador
  • Chiara Adamo, Head of Unit ‘Gender Equality, Human Rights and Democratic Governance’, DG INTPA, European Commission

Chaired by László Andor, Secretary General, FEPS

Considering the worrisome gender backlash across the globe, this session will facilitate a conversation about gender dynamics in diplomacy and multilateralism. Informed by ecofeminist thinking and migration policy considerations, the challenges and opportunities of women in multilateralism will be discussed. By bringing together female leaders from across different countries and institutional affiliations, it will create a space for interaction on urgency to integrate gender considerations in any policy efforts to advance SDGs and human rights. This session will thus critically take stock of the progress made so far and the needs and expectations of the EU’s partner countries to live up to gender, climate and migrant justice in line with a truly intersectional feminist foreign policy approach.

Closing (16:30 - 16:45)

  • Laeticia Thissen, Senior Policy Analyst for Gender Equality, FEPS
  • Agnes Mach, Policy Officer on Gender Justice, FES EU Office

Reception: 16:45