The Future of Foreign Policy is Feminist, with Kristina Lunz

Feb 1, 2024 51 min listen

Women are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making worldwide. According to the latest United Nations data, only 11.3 percent of countries have women heads of state, and 9.8 percent have women heads of government. Representation at ministerial and local levels is higher but nowhere near parity leading to missing voices in national policymaking. With the globe enflamed in multiple crises from wars to climate disasters, new frameworks for cooperation are needed.

In the new English translation of her book on feminist foreign policy, activist and political scientist Kristina Lunz seeks to define what an innovative approach to global diplomacy looks like. How can this inclusive, visionary policy become a reality?

In this virtual book talk, Lunz and Doorstep co-hosts Tatiana Serafin and Nikolas Gvosdev discuss a new paradigm for foreign policy, which re-envisions a country’s national interests by prioritizing equality and shifting the focus from the state to the individual.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: Welcome, everyone, to this edition of The Doorstep Book Talk. I am your co-host, senior fellow at Carnegie Council Nick Gvosdev.

TATIANA SERAFIN: And I am Tatiana Serafin, also a senior fellow here at Carnegie Council, so excited for our first Book Talk of the year for something so important, and welcoming back to The Doorstep Kristina Lunz, cofounder and co-CEO of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, also author of today’s book, The Future of Foreign Policy is Feminist.

As you can see, Kristina, I have delved deep into this. You were here with us last March speaking about feminist foreign policy for Women’s History Month. We were excited by the publication of your book in German and invited you back when it came out in English, so I encourage all of our audience today to go out and buy this book. It is I think going to be on the reading list of every international relations and diplomacy class, or it should be. Nick and I are graduates of the School of Foreign Service, and I am writing to the dean right now. I think everybody should read about this because it reframes how we think about international relations, how we think about global relations, and how we think about human relations.

I am so excited to have you here with us today to talk about the book and to also I think reintroduce feminist foreign policy to our audience, who may not be as familiar, so welcome to our audience, from wherever you are tuning in, or if you are watching this in playback. We welcome your questions live today and then online after the podcast. What I want to say to our audience live is that you can put your questions in the chat, and we will take them in the second half of our talk, so we are going to grease the wheels a little bit, get going, and we look forward to hearing from you all.

Getting back to you, Kristina, how have you been since last March? The world is such a different place. We said that last March, yet it has further imploded I think personally, propelling the need for this new narrative that you talk about in your book, Feminist Foreign Policy. For our audience, could you define it broadly, and then we will hone in on more specifics, just so people know how we are looking at the world through your book, in this conversation, and in the world today?

KRISTINA LUNZ: Thank you so much, Tatiana. Tatiana and Nicholas, I am so happy to be back. Thank you for having me again.

It is wild times. It is tough times indeed. Right now my days are actually occupied with something I might be talking about later. It is very much about feminist foreign policy, about legislation, and, from a feminist perspective, a couple of things are going wrong and why I have mobilized over a hundred well-known, influential, and celebrity women here in Germany to pressure the German Justice minister. We might want to come back to this in a second, but it would actually be a great example of feminist foreign policy and a feminist lens on foreign and security policy.

Maybe for the overview first, feminist foreign policy is the attempt to do foreign and security policy fundamentally differently by placing human security and human rights at the center of foreign policymaking and having a feminist lens. A feminist lens means that we look at relations, institutions, and dynamics from a power perspective. We look at how ministries spend money, who they give priority to when it comes to accepting advocacy work from different players.

Feminist foreign policy advocates for more spending on international cooperation for human rights, for feminist organizations, human rights organizations, and human rights defenders. Feminist foreign policy, like all feminist approaches in society—let’s put it this way: The feminist movement is about 200 to 250 years old, and in those 200 to 250 years feminists, mostly woman but not only at all, have tried to rethink the world in a way that it works for everyone, in a way that freedom and security are guaranteed for everyone because currently it is not. That is feminist foreign policy.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I hope that inspires people to ask further questions. I want to point out that in your book you lay out a great framework. In my book on page 170 there are five questions to ask for a feminist foreign policy. I love that as a potential frame for our discussion today.

Before we get there, one of the things that strikes me about feminist foreign policy is that it is very personal. It is not just supranational or national policy. It comes down to the local level, and you talk a lot in your book about how this impacts domestic policy and how it impacts what we talk about here, the doorstep.

I want to start with a little bit about your introduction to feminist foreign policy because you put a lot of your personal story into the book. I think that is inspiring, and I hope to inspire our audience with it. I wonder if you would be comfortable sharing your story and how you came to feminist foreign policy.

KRISTINA LUNZ: Thank you for asking this. I come from a wonderful working class background in a tiny village of 80 people in the south of Germany. Growing up on one hand was wonderful, and on the other growing up with a twin brother I soon realized that even here in Germany—and so many people think Germany is so progressive, which it is not; it is very conservative—it became very visible to me early on that there are different expectations toward boys and girls and freedoms geared toward boys and girls. I am saying this from a very privileged position, globally speaking.

I went to university at some point, and then in an international context I studied in the United Kingdom for quite a bit. I became acquainted with feminist discourse and feminist literature, and I became very angry very quickly. I read about the fact that whenever in history when we objectified a group of people—and objectification can happen, for example, through sexualizing them—that leads to dehumanization, and dehumanization always leads to an increased level of violence toward a certain group of people.

At the same time, I went home for summer break, and in the supermarket I saw Europe’s biggest newspaper lying in front of me, and it asked its readers on the front page to rate Germany’s “most beautiful cleavage,” and it had pictures of very successful, well-known German women. I was so angry because we know that in Germany every day a man tries to kill his partner or ex-partner and every third day he succeeds, we know that every second woman has experience with serious sexual harassment and every third with a stronger form of sexualized violence. We know all of this. We know that there is this ubiquity of male violence in our society, which has a core function in our societies. At the same, we keep sexualizing, objectifying, and belittling women wherever we go in our media.

So I started this campaign out of naïveté against Europe’s biggest newspaper. It was my first experience with having impact, an impact that has implications for bigger groups in society, and it was also my first experience with massive online violence. There is online violence, like rape threats, insults, and threats against my family and all of that, which I kept receiving over weeks. First it almost managed to silence me, which is the intention of online violence toward women, but then I understood this function of how patriarchy also works very hard to keep those women who question patriarchal structures quiet. I was not only angry but also determined.

Out of this I kept studying, and I started working internationally, in Bogotá, Colombia for a little bit during late 2016, the time of the peace referendum between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Colombian government. When the referendum was first rejected by the Colombian electorate we went on the street, marching and protesting every day with the feminist organization that I worked for. To me, looking back, it was my first experience of anti-feminist, anti-gender, anti-democratic actors and how this links between entire anti-democratic and anti-feminist ideas.

After that I worked for a few years at the United Nations Development Programme in New York and in Myanmar during the height of the genocide of the Burmese military against the Muslim minority of the Rohingya, and experiencing all of that.

I arrived in New York on the day of the inauguration of Donald Trump and experienced all of this. Having some feminist knowledge and also knowing about great women, for example, like Margot Wallström, the former Swedish foreign minister, who introduced feminist foreign policy into her country in 2014, inspired this wish I had to start my own organization on feminist foreign policy, the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, which I co-founded in 2018, and then a few years later I wrote this book about feminist foreign policy.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I do want to get to the example you alluded to in the beginning, your current work on legislation, but I want to just go into a little more about what governments need to do to think about feminist foreign policy. You mention in your book that from the time of the first publication in German there were seven countries [with a feminist foreign policy]—Sweden was the first and then it kind of backtracked a little bit—and when this particular translation came out there were eleven.

KRISTINA LUNZ: Indeed, over the past few years, since 2014, there has been this small but very powerful movement toward more feminist foreign policies, and it is still there, but with the current international global state that we are in of course there are more challenges here as well.

Officially we have 14 countries that have a feminist foreign policy. Then again, late last year there were, for example, elections in the Netherlands and Argentina, and there were changes. For some countries we do not know as of yet how this will impact the feminist foreign policies. I guess I am trying to say that last year was a year of big gains for feminist foreign policy and at the same time challenges increased as well.

Speaking of gains, for example, during the UN General Assembly Week last September in New York the first big high-level meeting on feminist foreign policy took place, so we had foreign ministers from several countries, including Germany but also from the Netherlands and several other countries, speak and pledge certain commitments, idea, and principles, with regard to feminist foreign policy, so we have that.

We have very active civil society around the world working on feminist foreign policy. Here in Europe there are many organizations working on it. In the United States there are strong organizations, especially the Feminist Foreign Policy Collaborative, the International Center for Research on Women, and many more. In Latin America they have a very strong feminist movement anyway, but they are also excellent on feminist foreign policy nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) there. Last year a consortium, not yet an NGO, of feminist experts organized on African feminist foreign policies, so we have these incredible experts all over the globe.

Luckily we are collaborating and trying to pull the right strings for more countries to take on a feminist approach, which would include, for example, increasing spending on human rights, increasing spending on international collaboration, increasing spending for feminist civil society that includes stronger arms export control and rethinking narratives around deterrence, for example. It includes wanting to strengthen the international law framework. It includes coming together to fight back the increasing anti-feminist and anti-gender authoritarian movement.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: When you were speaking about spending it reminded me of the saying, “Show me your budget, and I will tell you your strategy,” which I think gets to the heart of what you have written in the book and what you have been working for, that it is not simply a matter of representation; it is a matter of changing institutional priorities, changing bureaucracies, and changing the lists of what organizations and governments are measured by. I want to touch on that a bit more because historically, whether it was Queen Victoria, Empress Catherine the Great, Margaret Thatcher, or Indira Gandhi, you might have had women in power, but I don’t think you would necessarily say that they had a feminist foreign policy during their tenures.

How do you see this effort of institutional transformation? In other words, how do you get a foreign ministry or a defense ministry to put human security at the center, and what does that begin to look like beyond just lip service to, “Yes, we should pay attention to these issues;” how do you see that process of transformation occurring?

KRISTINA LUNZ: It is an enormous task definitely. I try to outline it in the book and show the different areas we need to tackle. It starts with taking on the narratives that have been taught in international relations theory, for example, like this big focus on the so-called “realist paradigm,” which stipulates that because we have no supranational government all countries are in anarchy, and the realist conclusion is that they are all in competition with each other, so they all want to get more arms and be more militarily powerful. These narratives and the conclusions that are drawn from them inform what institution we build.

As you said, what do we spend money on? Is it the third or fourth time in a row that global military spending has increased. It started increasing during the pandemic, during a time when there was not enough money for hospital beds and to pay doctors and nurses, but millions of U.S. dollars were spent on the modernization of the nuclear arsenal, for example.

In the beginning of the book I mention one of these comparisons of spending. Global military spending now stands at a bit more than $2 trillion, and at the same time the international community is spending a fraction of this money—around 0.4 percent of that—on UN peacekeeping, for example. If we look at those huge differences, no one has to wonder why we are living in an internationally violent state because the whole international architecture is set up to fight wars and to inflict violence on other people.

We need to start changing narratives because this then will inform institutions. We need to get the strategies right and the priorities and the budgets, but also, for example, here at the foreign ministry in Berlin Germany announced a feminist foreign policy in March of last year. On paper they have an excellent strategy. They call them the Feminist Foreign Policy Guidelines, and within the ministry they changed some structures. They have now a tiny Department of Feminist Foreign Policy. They have a new section or department on diversity.

They are trying to mainstream feminist foreign policy, but because it is not this institutional transformation and change that would be needed to have the resources to produce, for example, human rights reports for every country that is informed from a feminist perspective that takes into account the situation of women, of marginalized people, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) communities, we still have a miserable record of German arms exports. Germany is exporting to countries that hugely violate human rights. Those assessments to understand which countries should receive arms from Germany often do not include human rights considerations, which we looked into a few years back here at the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy for our research on the impact of German weapons on sexualized violence in Latin America. We need this holistic, comprehensive change toward a more feminist foreign policy. It would need to change representation and budgets, departments, and narratives. It is a mammoth task.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I want to go back. Nick, you said it is not about representation.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: It is insufficient. It is not enough to say, “We have X amount of women,” if the structures and bureaucratic incentives are such to lead you in a different—

TATIANA SERAFIN: I am going to counter. It is important to have women in positions of power with voices that can make those changes. Representation is everything.

Kristina, maybe you can navigate this discussion, but I am struck by, particularly in your book, your discussion of how women were not allowed to be diplomats. As a graduate of the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University, when I applied and thought I would be the first ambassador to Ukraine when it was independent—that was my dream goal; that is how old I am, like back when the Soviet Union was still in existence. It never occurred to me to think that I couldn’t be. It really didn’t. Reading your history about how hard it was for women to be accepted in the diplomatic corps and still continue to be in industrialized, Global North countries, never mind—by the way, we have not touched on the Middle East here.

Representation is everything, I think. I love the history that you present in international relations and diplomacy. Maybe you could touch on that and its impact because its corollary for me in your book is how, when women are part of the peace process, it becomes more lasting. You quote various statistics about how it becomes more lasting, so we have to have the women there in order to make lasting change.

Right now, in a world that is imploding, I look at my television screen, and there are no women negotiating a settlement in Israel and Palestine that I see. Maybe there is somebody behind the scenes informally, but onscreen I am only seeing, as you talk about in your headline, old white men or old privileged men.

Representation, Kristina. How do we get there, and what do you think about some of these comments?

KRISTINA LUNZ: I guess you are both right. Fair representation according to the size of a certain group in society is about justice and fairness, so from a feminist perspective there is no question around the fact that women need to be represented a bit more than 50 percent in all positions of power, and that is never anything I would find arguments for, because as a feminist I am relying on ideas of justice, and that is what representative justice is about.

As you rightly said, Tatiana, it was not only that women were not allowed to be diplomats until recently in both West and East Germany, until the late 1940s, but it was only in the 1990s that more than a handful began to be in positions of ambassadors or more leading diplomatic positions. In the United Kingdom it was not until the 1970s that they had the choice to be diplomats and wives. There was a so-called “marriage bar” in place, but then there is also this history, which I also discuss in the book and you just mentioned, about peace processes.

Feminist foreign policy as the idea to rethink the international global order from a feminist perspective goes back to at least 1915, when during the First World War in The Hague in the Netherlands more than 1,200 women, feminists, many of them suffragettes, gathered to discuss the state of affairs and to demand an end to the First World War and demilitarization, but a lot more.

They published 20 resolutions, which included peace education, of course women suffrage—most women were not allowed to vote at that time. It included the dismantling of the military-industrial complex because already back then women said that as long as producing arms and exporting and selling weapons is so financially beneficial there will of course be no end to wars because so many people benefit from the wars that are being fought around the globe—and these have doubled in the last ten years from roughly 30 to 60.

All of these resolutions which the women published were about rethinking the international order. They were some of the first to call for an International Court of Arbitration. They demanded something like the League of Nations. Then came the League of Nations and then the United Nations. The same women, a few years later at the Paris Peace Conference which were not allowed to attend because only men—I think one Chinese delegate was allowed to attend, but there were pretty much no women allowed and no pacifists. Men were worried that these women were too pacifist to attend a peace conference.

The figures are a little bit better, but one of the latest numbers by Brookings—I think they have the best numbers—reveals that about 10 percent of attendees of peace processes are women and mediators, roughly the same number of signatories, a little bit less. We are far off from fair representation there, and we know that peace lasts longer the more women we have involved, and that is not because women are more peaceful or more empathetic or anything. It is because the time of a peace process, a peace conference, or mediation process is the time when the future of a society or of a country is being negotiated and when it is supposed to be rebuilt, and if you are not including the security needs of all people involved in the society how is this supposed to be stable?

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: I think that is a critical point, and it comes back to this notion of putting human security at the center.

Just to emphasize your point, Tatiana, on representation, Kristina, when you were talking about the peace activists and the feminists gathered in The Hague a century ago and talking about the financial incentives, it does seem that representation needs to be not only in government but just as much in business, that it is not a matter of simply increasing representation in foreign ministries, defense ministries, and intelligence agencies but also in boardrooms and corporate suites if a feminist foreign policy narrative is to gain traction. I think that is important to emphasize.

Just to come back again to this point about durable peace, we have seen peace processes in the Middle East that have not worked to generate lasting peace and, we have seen conflict resolution efforts in many parts of the world that seem—as you said, they focus on the military aspects, demilitarizing or creating security zones, but not really putting human security at the center, which would include certainly dealing with violence against women, violence against children, the things that prevent normal safe difference.

Is this the chicken-and-egg problem? If we have more women at these events, does that move the needle? Is it a question that governments and more governments simply have to say, “These are the priorities that we are going to put forward,” and the metrics questions, which is, “We are going to measure success not by military means; we are going to look at Human Security Indexes; we are going to look at the well-being of a population?”

Again, I am trying to get at this idea of how do we make this shift when we have such entrenched bureaucracies and have such entrenched, as you said, narratives that privilege prevailing in conflict as the measure for success or failure in foreign policy. You win or lose wars rather than you improve life for people. From the conclusions you have in the book, what is the pathway forward for the audience of concrete recommendations for how we can begin to advance this agenda moving forward?

KRISTINA LUNZ: A couple of thoughts to what you just said. One point I forgot to say before is that you were of course also right when you said that it is not sufficient to have more women in certain positions. This is why I said I agree with both of you because on the one hand fair representation has to be a must which is nonnegotiable, and at the same time it is true that only because we have, for example, a woman in a certain position does not mean that she is doing feminist work. Feminist work means dismantling unjust structures, for example, patriarchal structures. Both are true.

You alluded to violence against women and durable peace. As you were saying this I wanted to add to this an important piece of research done by Professor Valerie Hudson and her team on how the most significant factor toward whether a country is peaceful within its own borders or toward other countries is the level of gender equality in that country and the level of violence against women. You can say that the more patriarchal a country is the more likely that country will go to war and the more likely that country will violate international law.

Ultimately—and, Tatiana, you alluded to it in the beginning—the book and feminist foreign policy are so personal because the international state of affairs and how violent it is and how many wars we are fighting is a direct extension of the ubiquity, normalization, and impunity of male violence. This is ultimately what it is about. If we as countries and societies around the world do not manage to finally at some point get male violence under control, we will not see an end to wars and conflicts globally, so durable peace is a function of how successful countries are at keeping male aggression in check.

This is a good point to mention what I started with at the beginning of the talk, the activist or campaigning work that I am currently leading here in Germany and how this is linked to feminist foreign policy.

I drafted an open letter to the justice minister here in Germany, and it was signed more than 100 very, very well known women from the German public, politics, culture, and the business world, including different Members of Parliament (MPs) from different parties as well because at the European Union in 2022 a piece of legislation was proposed by the Commission on comprehensively combatting violence against women. It was the very first piece that was introduced into the legislative process at the European Union on comprehensively combatting violence against women digitally but also in so-called “real life.” This is being blocked by mainly two countries, France and Germany, two countries that officially have a feminist foreign policy, and they both blocking it.

In person, it is the German justice minister blocking it, and he is quoting concerns about whether the European Union has the competence to regulate these kinds of crimes. There are a lot of pieces of paper written proving him wrong by lawyers and coalitions of lawyers and human rights organizations, but he is still blocking it, and he is from a party which in the past has attracted attention for anti-feminist policies. This is going to be all over the media in Germany, asking him to stop this blockade because what it is ultimately about is better protecting millions of women across the whole European Union.

This piece of legislation, if adopted, would harmonize laws on violence against women across the European Union, for example, with regard to rape, so no means no, and consent would be the basis of judging rape in court, but he is blocking it. That is a perfect example. Feminist policies like this have to be accepted from a feminist perspective because our societies are still functioning in a way that in most cases there is no punishment for male violence but there is huge impunity.

In Germany only 5 to 10 percent of all rape cases are reported, and of all rape cases roughly only 1 percent are prosecuted. This is patriarchy. Now we need to find tools and ways to change these structures, and EU legislation—this then becomes foreign policy because it is so many countries coming together trying to make this safe*—would be one way to make societies less patriarchal and better protect women from male violence. This ultimately contributes to a more peaceful world on a global scale.

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV: Just as you were saying that—and you have been talking about narratives in foreign policy—teaching foreign policy, I think that is a great metric you have introduced. I think many people are familiar with democratic peace theory, that democracies don’t go to war, and there is great capitalist peace theory, that countries that trade together don’t go to war, but maybe the actual metric is societies that have less violence against women at home are less likely to go to war.

As you were saying that, I am just thinking about the trajectory in Russia over the past 30 years, where women’s representation in government has fallen, women’s position in the economy and business—there used to be a party in Russia called the Women of Russia that ran on feminist platforms, which has disappeared from the political infrastructure. That gets you thinking that we can measure this and perhaps see a direct correlation to a willingness to employ force abroad when you have these patriarchal metrics plus violence-against-women metrics.

As you were saying before and as Tatiana was noting, when we teach this to students this is still not at the top of the agenda. People either think in terms of realism and power, they think in terms of democratic peace, but saying that the violence against women peace or war thesis definitely, and when we look at other conflict zones around the world I think we see this relationship, and as you noted even in industrial democracies, where these issues may not be addressed at the doorstep level that then have an impact on how a country positions itself overseas. I think that is an extremely important conclusion.

TATIANA SERAFIN: There are some questions in the chat, and I want to make sure that we address those. [Edgar Ponzo's question is], what really is the clear goal of feminist foreign policy? If we were ask world leaders today, where do we go from today?

KRISTINA LUNZ: In my book I have a chapter about feminist foreign policy in times of conflict and times of war because so many people always say: “Okay, it’s to nice to have this, but we do not have time for this. We have major crises, wars, and conflict.” I argue that it is at the most urgent times when we need changes and feminist foreign policy. At the same time, feminist foreign policy was created during a time of war in 1915, so that argument does not go anywhere.

In this chapter I look at Russia and Ukraine, for example, and I argue that feminist foreign policy is good at distinguishing between, short, medium, and long terms. This distinction between short, medium, and long terms I apply to Iran in this one chapter but also to Russia and Ukraine. For example, when we look at Russia we stand to learn that not only since 2014, when the invasion started in Crimea but for many, many years the LGBTQI movement, women, and women’s rights, have faced so many attacks. For example, the law on domestic violence was reversed, making it legal again to beat your wife in Russia. At the same time, we have seen attacks on the feminist movement with vilification. The LGBTQI community now is in huge danger because they have very recently been put more on the margins again.

This has been happening for so many years, and human rights organizations, feminist organizations, and LGBTQI rights organizations have been raising the alarm for so many years because it is pretty much always the same when we look around the world. Authoritarian regimes or more autocratic regimes start with attacks on human rights and marginalized groups in their communities and their societies. From a feminist perspective, first of all we need to learn from the past what we did wrong there and how an early-warning system includes these voices.

Also, in the short term, feminist foreign policy can address, for example, in the Ukraine it was mainly women fleeing their country, and they are facing huge dangers of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. It also includes gender-specific humanitarian assistance. A short-term focus of feminist foreign policy includes documenting sexualized violence in conflict and rape as a weapon of war and addressing this.

Until recently, before we had the new government in Poland—which will hopefully change the legislation on abortion—when the war started many women fled to Poland and there was pretty much a complete ban on abortion, so what happens to Ukrainian women raped by soldiers fleeing through Ukraine to Poland?

These are all short-term aspects that can be looked at, but in the medium term we need feminist interventions and in the long term we need feminist transformation, and feminist transformation in the long term means building toward a world where it will no longer be possible that a mass murderer, a dictator like Putin, is in possession of nuclear weapons, so it must look at the big structures. It must look at the rise of authoritarianism and how we can stop this. It must look at the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. It must look at structures of power abuse. Feminist foreign policy, if it wants to be successful, must address all of that, short, medium, and long term.

That is my response to the question. We need to be very diligent and be smart in all of these different time spans.

TATIANA SERAFIN: I want to mention that one of the pleasures of reading your book were all the shout-outs you did to women who you work with and who have inspired you.

We are talking today with Kristina Lunz about The Future of Foreign Policy is Feminist. I do not know how many there are, but at the end of every chapter there are these vignettes about what I am going to call “power women.” One of our audience members called out that Professor Hudson in Sex and World Peace argues for a democratic peace theory. We have another shout-out to the Women’s Peace and Security Index developed by the Georgetown Institute for Women’s Peace and Security.

I wanted to say that as part of one of these vignettes one of them you talk is this book called Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. I taught a class called Reporting Gender, and I used that text because it talks about patriarchy and patriarchical systems, which we have alluded to this entire conversation. I want to stress that this is what we are living in today, and I think people need to talk about it. We have a huge election in the United States, and I do not think these issues are being addressed. We have some candidates claiming that the United States is not a racist country, not even thinking about our history and the history of colonization and patriarchy, and that is one of the things that your book highlights.

I want to talk about these systems, how you come up against them, and maybe strategies for those who want to pursue a new narrative in feminist foreign policy. How do you work within patriarchical systems? You give some examples of working within and outside the system, and I think that might be inspirational for some people listening.

KRISTINA LUNZ: Yes. I love that question, and I will respond to it in a second.

Before that, you mentioned the upcoming elections in the United States. A feminist approach to some part with regard to the U.S. elections, which, from a German perspective I can say that I am massively worried about and I think the whole world is worried about—I personally am so worried about, on a big weekly German magazine the front page talked about a possible Trump dictatorship. This is what we are really worried about when it comes to the elections coming up.

From a feminist perspective I can only hope that those in the foreign office here in Germany who are somehow preparing for different scenarios are also thinking about the implications for women’s and marginalized group’s rights. If Trump is elected, one of the first things he might do is completely ban abortion on all possible levels. This is what he did after the last election. One of the first Executive Orders was on the global gag rule, for example.

There are huge worries about your upcoming elections, but your question was about how to work within and outside of the system. My approach toward change and how my organization, the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, is doing it is exactly what you mentioned. It is about trying to change from the inside by working with those within institutions that we share visions and principles with but also addressing and doing advocacy work from the outside.

The example that I mentioned just before on the Peace and Women’s Rights legislation, the work that we are currently doing is both. We have created huge media attention on this issue, and we are talking to influential MPs from that party and other parties and to cabinet members, trying to do both. That is only possible because we have built trust-based relationships with many actors who we can now talk to and also because we have built a reputation which allows us to do such things as public facing, open letters, and the involvement of very influential and public actors. I think it will lead to more success if you manage to do this.

The Munich Security Conference, for example, is coming up in two-and-a-half week’s time, and we will be hosting a bit feminist women’s-only, and we have been doing events on feminist foreign policy at the Munich Security Conference since 2020. We were the first organization that ever brought feminist foreign policy to the Munich Security Conference.

Since we have been doing this, feminist organizations have also been criticized for being in a space that traditionally has been and still is very militaristic. There are strong links between the Munich Security Conference and arms dealers and manufacturers. The main security concept is definitely one of militarized security instead of human security.

But we will go back and we will try to bring back the topic of feminist foreign policy, human rights, and human security. We are trying to bring our narratives to the security conference. I understand if some do not want to do it and would rather stay out of certain spaces, but for me I think this is the most efficient way to create change.

TATIANA SERAFIN: We want to thank you so much for joining us today and wish you much luck at the Munich Security Conference.

Kristina Lunz, cofounder and co-CEO for the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and author of The Future of Foreign Policy is Feminist, a book that will be read in every single classroom in the next few years.


TATIANA SERAFIN: Thank you so much.

KRISTINA LUNZ: Thank you for having me again.

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs is an independent and nonpartisan nonprofit. The views expressed within this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the position of Carnegie Council.

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