Towards a Feminist Foreign Policy in the US

A new House resolution calls for the transformation of US nuclear policy

In May 2020, Ploughshares Fund was proud to be one of the more than 70 organizations to endorse a white paper outlining what a US feminist foreign policy might look like: Towards a Feminist Foreign Policy for the United States.  The lead author of the paper was Lyric Thompson, the director of policy and advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women.

We are pleased to share the news that on September 23, 2020, co-chairs of the Democratic Women’s Caucus Congresswomen Jackie Speier (CA-14) and Lois Frankel (FL-21), and co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus Barbara Lee (CA-13) were joined by 20 members of Congress in introducing a House resolution calling for the adoption of a Feminist Foreign Policy as outlined in the report. The resolution would have the US adopt a Feminist Foreign Policy across all areas of foreign policymaking, including defense and —critical for our work— US nuclear weapons policy.

Here is a section of the report that pertains specifically to the issue of nuclear weapons:

Doctrine and debate around the use of force, and in particular nuclear weapons and the validity of deterrence, must center the impact of their use on humans, the environment and culture. Specific recommendations for defense efforts authorized under a US feminist foreign policy include:

  • Re-engaging with the global goal of nuclear disarmament, through policies that promote arms control, strengthen the international non-proliferation regime and reaffirm US commitment both not to test nuclear weapons and to draw down its own arsenal.
  • Conditioning the use of contractors on their ability to demonstrate positive outcomes for women and people who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination both within their firms and in communities where they are deployed.

Ploughshares Fund board member Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, the founder and executive director for Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS), a Ploughshares Fund grantee, said on the occasion, “a Feminist Foreign Policy recognizes the critical role that diplomacy, development, and other soft powers play alongside defense in achieving our national and foreign policy goals.” She continued, “we must therefore continue to strengthen the important role of international institutions, respect for international law and partnerships, and show that the US is a nation not alone, but among many.”

Sweden, France, Mexico and Canada have already adopted a feminist foreign policy. It is time for the US to join its neighbors. It would make the US and the world safer, especially because of the effect it would have on US nuclear weapons policy, an area in which enormous risks remain. The Ploughshares Fund Women's Initiative addresses this feminist, inclusive aspect of the solution to the problem of nuclear weapons, every day. We encourage you to learn more about our work and, if you aren't already, to become part of it.

Hear Lyric Thompson discuss the creation of the Feminist Foreign Policy white paper in the February 2020 episode of Press the Button, the Ploughshares Fund podcast. 

Photo: Lyric Thompson on Press the Button in February 2020. Alex Spire


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