Seminar Tackles 'Feminist Foreign Policy'

On Oct. 7, the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in collaboration with UN Women and the Embassies of France, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and Canada in Vietnam held the Feminist Foreign Policy Dialogue.
October 08, 2021 | 15:08

The Feminist Foreign Policy Dialogue was held on Oct. 7 by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in collaboration with UN Women and the Embassies of France, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and Canada in Vietnam.

The dialogue was attended by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Quang Hieu and President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations Pham Phuong Nga and facilitated by Acting President of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam Pham Lan Dung and UN Women Representative in Viet Nam Elisa Fernandez.

The Ambassador of France Nicolas Warnery, the Ambassador of Spain Pilar Mendez Jiménez, Ambassador of Mexico Sara Valdes, Ambassador of Sweden Ann Make and Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam Deborah Paul delivered speeches at the dialogue.

Over 500 students from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, the Foreign Trade University, Vin University and Fullbright Vietnam University took part in the event online.

Seminar Tackles 'Feminist Foreign Policy'
Delegates attending the Feminist Foreign Policy Dialogue. Photo: Thuy Duong/Vietnam Times

The dialogue aimed to introduce the concept of “feminist foreign policy” and its meanings for international politics and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.

The dialogue was also an opportunity to share the experience with applying the concept in Sweden, Canada, France, Mexico and Spain, the basis for pursuing feminist foreign policy and the changes and lessons learned in foreign policies to date.

In the opening speech, Acting President of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam Lan Dung affirmed that women played a vital role in the development of Vietnam and had been continuously confirming their positions in every aspect, from politics to socio-economy.

Deputy Minister Quang Hieu underlined the importance of female empowerment in implementing foreign policies on bilateral and multilateral forums. In Vietnam, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been actively taking steps to ensure Vietnam’s commitment to international agreements on gender equality.

The ministry has been carrying out various programs and dialogues on women empowerment and gender equality. With these efforts, the working environment at the ministry has become increasingly gender-equal, with a large number of female staff having high professional competency.

Seminar Tackles 'Feminist Foreign Policy'
Overview of the Feminist Foreign Policy Dialogue. Photo: Thuy Duong/Vietnam Times

In the first session of the dialogue, participating ambassadors discussed the implementation of feminist foreign policies in their respective countries.

According to Ambassador of France to Vietnam Nicolas Warnery, the country’s policies focus on boosting gender equality in different fields, especially in development and humanitarian aids, where the voice and perspectives of women are heard at any time and from any angle. In addition, ensuring equality of income between men and women is one of France’s priorities to move towards a progressive and ideal working environment.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s feminist domestic policies aim first and foremost at vulnerable and discriminated groups in society and striving to practice multilateralism to find general solutions to social issues. By applying feminist foreign policy, these issues can be clarified, including social and gender inequality.

Ambassador of Mexico to Vietnam Valdes believes that achieving consistency in policymaking and implementation is highly important, as shown via improvement in the working environment, practicing the feminist approach and ensuring an equal working environment, which gives women room to raise their voice and provide comments in policies making.

In the second session, the participating ambassadors discussed the application of the feminist foreign policies in their respective countries and the successes gained. Specifically, the policy has been applied in a practical manner, focusing on supporting women in work and everyday life. However, implementing the policy requires cooperation between authorities at all levels. The measurement of the policy’s effectiveness is not a simple task, requiring clear action goals and systematic auditing.

Seminar Tackles 'Feminist Foreign Policy'
President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations Phuong Nga speaking at the Feminist Foreign Policy Dialogue. Photo: Thuy Duong/Vietnam Times

President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations Phuong Nga said that “women have advantages over men as they have unique characteristics. Not only do they know how to listen and apply flexible approaches to communications, but they are also persistent and determined. These are the necessary qualities of diplomats.”

Discussing the cultural and traditional aspects in implementing the feminist foreign policy, Ambassador of Spain to Vietnam Jiménez said that culture did not exist for eternity but kept changing constantly. Because human creates culture, the fact that women are obstructed by culture is something that must be changed.

Throughout the dialogue, speakers spent time answering questions posed by participating students on issues such as the disadvantages facing women at work or the cultural aspects of feminist issues.

The speakers agreed that women and men would enjoy more equality in different aspects as feminism was promoted.

Seminar Tackles 'Feminist Foreign Policy'
The delegates took a commemorative photo with students from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. Photo: Thuy Duong/Vietnam Times

In the past decade, many countries have been including women in foreign policy making, focusing more on gender equality and the leading role of women in foreign policy activities.

Today, 22 countries have women as the country or government leaders. Women account for at least 50% of the cabinets in 13 countries and at least 50% of the legislative bodies in three countries. Some countries have appointed ambassadors to enhance the role of women abroad or within the framework of their foreign policies.

Vietnam has made significant progress in ensuring gender equality, enhancing the role of women and showing its commitment to elevate the position of Vietnamese women in all aspects.

Notably, Vietnam recently approved the National Strategy on Gender Equality in the period 2021-2030. In addition, women accounted for 30% of the delegates in the latest National Assembly election and election of the People’s Councils at all levels. This is the highest rate achieved since the fifth tenure (1976-1981).

These achievements complement the Sustainable Development Goals 5, 1, 8, 13, 16 and 17, and have positive impact on Vietnam’s National Action Plan for the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

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