8 Wins for Women in Foreign Policy

FP victories
Belgrade Security Forum/UN Women/Wikimedia Commons

Around the world, people are celebrating International Women’s Day 2018 through song, dance, protests and marches. In Spain, women walked out of work in the county’s first nation-wide “feminist strike,” while women across the globe from Turkey to Kenya to Ukraine took to the streets.

At Foreign Policy Rising, we’re also celebrating one year since our launch—a year that’s seen the publication of almost 50 articles, a growing community of writers, and readership in over 80 countries.

We’re also celebrating International Women’s Day by asking the question: How has the world of foreign policy changed for women in the past year?

Here’s a look at 8 wins for women in foreign policy and international leadership.

1. Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern’s rapid rise to power ushered in waves of hope and enthusiasm across New Zealand that the media dubbed “Jacindamania.” She may be the third female Prime Minister in the country’s history, but since taking office in October 2017, she’s been a “first” in many ways: She’s New Zealand’s youngest Prime Minister in over a century and the first to march in a gay pride parade.

2. In the United States, women made electoral history across the country.

Women may hold few prominent positions in the Trump administration, but in local, state and national elections in the past year, women, women of color, and transgender women made enormous gains. And this year, a record number of women plan to run for office.

3. In Africa, women launched the African Women Leaders Network.

With support from the United Nations and the African Union, the African Women Leaders Network embarked on a mission to boost women’s participation in African politics through grassroots training and mentorship.

In sub-Saharan Africa, women compromise just 24 percent of positions in ministries and parliaments. While this percentage is higher than those found in legislatures in many parts of the developed world, there’s still work to be done—and the African Women Leaders Network is poised to make a big difference. Read more about it here.

4. Women’s rights took to the global stage.

Thanks in part to individuals who spoke up about sexual harassment, and the strength of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, and local victories for women’s rights around the world, the fight for gender equality has never been more prominent on the global stage.

It’s important to note that there are still many women and communities around the world whose stories remain untold—and stories that won’t be captured in the predominantly Western-led social media campaigns. But in various parts of the world, local and national women’s movements seem to be making progress and making the news: In Iran, women have protested compulsory rules about headscarves. Ireland has finally loosened its abortion laws. Women in Saudi Arabia have secured the right to drive.

5. Norway appointed Ine Eriksen Soereid Foreign Minister.

In October last year, Ine Eriksen Soereide became Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs—making her the first woman to hold the position. It also means that women now fill Norway’s top three leadership positions (Prime Minister, Foreign Minster and Finance Minister).

6. Angela Merkel secured her fourth term as leader of Germany.

The European Union’s longest-serving leader, Angela Merkel, was reelected for a fourth term as Germany’s Chancellor in September 2017. Though she’s come under fire for her refusal to call herself a feminist, Angela Merkel—who’s been hailed as “the queen of Europe”—remains one of the most powerful women in the world.

7. Ana Brnabić Became Prime Minister of Serbia

In Eastern Europe, the Serbian people welcomed a new Prime Minister into office: Ana Brnabić, the first woman and openly gay person to ever hold that title. She may not want to be branded Serbia’s “gay Prime Minister” (and rightly so), but it’s clear that she’s ushering in an era of change for her country.

8. In the United Kingdom, Brits voted in a record number of female MPs.

In 2017, the British people voted in 208 female MPs—up from 191 in 2015. Women still account for only 32 percent of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the U.K., but it’s the highest the country’s ever had.


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