At the current rate of progress, achieving gender equality would take approximately 300 years, according to the latest report by UN Women and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Given this scenario, Chile has decided to act, and has joined the limited list of countries to have a Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP).
Below are five key pieces of information to understanding the FFP and its importance for Chile and the world.
1. First South American country to implement a Feminist Foreign Policy
Chile becomes the first South American country to have a Feminist Foreign Policy, along with Sweden, Canada, France, Luxembourg, Spain and Mexico. Sweden was the pioneer, and in 2014 the country adopted the measure in order to add the gender perspective as a fundamental basis for effectively fulfilling the country’s interests.
Along these same lines, the policy reinforces the principles of democracy and the defense of human rights, seeking to establish gender equality and non-discrimination as guiding principles in Chile’s foreign policy.
2. It promotes participation, inclusion, transversality and an intersectional approach
The FFP is participative, since it aims to open spaces for all stakeholders in its design and implementation. It is inclusive, as it aims for its benefits to reach everyone, both in the political and commercial spheres. It is transversal, by promoting coordinated action in all areas of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s work. And it is intersectional, since it recognizes that inequality is not only structural, but also configured by the overlapping of various factors.
3. It reviews the institutional structure and culture
The declaration of a Feminist Foreign Policy promotes coordinated foreign policy actions with a gender perspective in various spaces, forums and mechanisms related to advancing gender equality.
But it also has an internal dimension related to institutional structure and culture. In this regard, it will allow a review of regulations, processes and protocols to be carried out, which will accelerate the implementation of the changes necessary to reduce gender gaps. Along these lines, it aims to increase the presence of women in embassies. In 2021, there were 14 women in charge of Chilean embassies and missions abroad; and by February 2023, there were 27.
To provide continuity and consolidate a policy that aims for greater participation of women in decision-making spaces, the FFP proposes the creation of an Advisory Committee of Experts that will present a strategy to authorities to make progress on parity by 2030.
4. Chile, a pioneer in granting an inclusive perspective to foreign trade policy
We were the first country in the world to incorporate gender and trade chapters in several free trade agreements that Chile shares with other countries, seeking to open opportunities to expand the participation of women in international trade. The FFP will thus strengthen this area by allowing greater availability of data with a gender perspective and the possibility of sharing experiences in the development of co-responsibility policies, as well as others that contribute to issues such as gender equality and dialogue in international organizations.
In 2016, Chile included the first chapter on these matters in a bilateral trade agreement by signing it into the instrument with Uruguay. This was followed by those signed with Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and, recently, the European Union.
Chile – together with New Zealand and Canada – was one of the first countries to sign an international instrument dedicated to gender and trade issues, called the Global Trade and Gender Agreement.
5. Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms
One of the FFP’s most important points is to have monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, so that the objectives and goals established can be measured over time and thus improved. As has been verified through the experience of other countries, there have been no follow-up mechanisms and it is especially difficult that the policies not become diluted over time.
For this reason, in order to have clear goals, deadlines, indicators and responsible parties, a Gender Affairs Division will be created to coordinate the efforts that are already established in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and to consolidate and strengthen them, so that they are not vulnerable to changes in authority. A website is also available with all the information, explanatory material and articulated monitoring mechanisms.
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