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Maatschappelijk Middenveld vraagt om een intersectionele aanpak voor het Nederlandse Feministische Buitenlandbeleid

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The Netherlands will be presenting its Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) before the summer of 2023. Four civil society networks (DCDD, WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform, Partos and Prisma), 21 organisations and the Voice team, all working with groups facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, made a joint plea to the Dutch government to ensure that an intersectional approach will be taken, to address equality and non-discrimination for all.

Our call for an intersectional approach

We are very pleased with the development of the Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) by the Netherlands. We feel supported by the fact that the FFP, as proposed in the recent letter to the House of Representatives, takes Article 1 from the Constitution as its starting point, addressing equality and non-discrimination for all.However, we are concerned that the proposed actions for its implementation rely on a well-intentioned but limited perspective towards gender mainstreaming and LGBTIQ+ rights. We are convinced that the ambitions of the FFP can only be reached through a truly intersectional approach.


That is why, in January 2023, we have shared the following suggestions in a letter to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This included a tool we developed to fully integrate intersectionality into decision making processes at the Ministries responsible for foreign policy areas. 


Why an intersectional lens is the key to success

 It addresses root causes of inequality
Intersectionality is about identifying and addressing the multiple systems of oppression and exclusion that produce marginalisation and discrimination.

It is transformative
An intersectional approach brings the voices and experiences of those who are most marginalised to the forefront, so that systems of oppression and exclusion can be identified and exposed by those who are impacted by them the most. This approach also provides space for agency in addressing unique, multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination. As a result, power dynamics are deeply transformed not only as an outcome, but throughout the whole process.

It is unifying
In the current context of increasing polarisation and forces that undermine feminist movements, it is more important than ever to stand united and not let these forces create division in our shared goal of equality. What’s more, when it comes to internally ‘walking the talk’ throughout the Ministries (including embassies) involved in implementation of the FFP, an intersectional approach helps to bring all staff on board. Supporting staff at all levels to reflect on the various parts of their own identity that may experience marginalisation or privilege, helps in creating internal ownership of the FFP.

Three ways to incorporate an intersectional lens
Based on our experience - and in the spirit of partnership - we propose three actions to help to incorporate an intersectional lens. They relate to some of the focus areas mentioned in the recent progress letter on the Dutch FFP

Embedding an intersectional lens
If you want to do an appropriate analysis of policies and programmes, gender tools only looking at the power dynamics between men and women will not be sufficient for addressing root causes of overall power dynamics and inequality. To complement or adapt (not replace) existing tools, we have developed 10 questions that can be utilised during the development, implementation and evaluation of Dutch foreign policy areas under the newly adopted FFP. Answering these questions will show whether no one is left behind, and what can be done to involve those affected by a certain policy. We also have videos and other training materials on intersectionality available, to support staff in applying this intersectional lens.

Meaningful participation
An intersectional approach fosters a diversity of points of view and prioritises diverse forms of knowledge, including from those typically excluded from ‘expert’ roles. Lived experiences are viewed as valuable sources of knowledge. 

Mechanisms for meaningful and ongoing engagement of communities impacted by the policies need to be put in place, throughout the stages of policy-making, implementation and evaluation. To support the development of such mechanisms, an FFP Advisory Committee can be set up to be a critical sounding board, consisting of representatives with diverse backgrounds, tapping into the rich knowledge and expertise of diverse social movements, practitioners and scholars of the Global South. Our coalition can support the co-creation of such a Committee, drawing lessons from mechanisms existing within MoFA and other countries. Another interesting mechanism is the DID4All Helpdesk, which was set up by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in partnership with a disability NGO and a knowledge institute.

Setting the agenda & promoting learning

The FFP ministerial conference in The Hague in 2023 provides an excellent opportunity for a session to address the crucial principle of intersectionality, to share the Dutch experience of the Voice fund (and other intersectional Strategic Partnerships), and to benefit from experiences of civil society stakeholders as well as governments who have taken an explicitly intersectional approach in their FFP (e.g. Spain). These actions are not meant as an exhaustive set of recommendations on intersectionality. They are part of a long term process of transformation, which is layered and nonlinear. In partnership and dialogue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we will gladly contribute to achieving the high ambitions that a transformative FFP deserves and requires. 

Download the tool
Read the letter initiated by DCDD, VSO and Dorcas
, that was sent to the ministry of foreign affairs

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