Feminist approach to foreign policy - stakeholder engagement workshops: evidence report

Independent report summarising the views of international and domestic stakeholders on what a feminist approach to foreign policy may mean for Scottish Government international engagement.

1. Executive summary

The 2021-2022 Programme for Government promised that Scotland’s global affairs framework will be “grounded in a values-based approach, and a feminist approach to foreign policy”. This report details recommendations from a diverse range of stakeholders as to how the Scottish Government can develop its feminist approach to foreign policy.

The stakeholder engagement process aimed to:

  • Inform the policy focus and measurable outcomes of Scotland’s feminist approach to foreign policy;
  • Identify and fill gaps in existing knowledge about global gender issues, thereby improving the Scottish Government’s evidence base;
  • Help to shape the definition of the Scottish Government’s feminist approach to foreign policy; and
  • Build relationships with key stakeholders and develop long-term networks.

The report provides a synthesis of evidence and recommendations distilled through five consultative workshops. These involved 97 participants from Scotland and the Global South, including from the Scottish Government’s international development partner countries (Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and Pakistan).

The report presents detailed recommendations for Scottish Government policy and action, organised according to four themes: international development, peace and security, climate and environmental justice and trade justice. Workshop participants were asked what actions and policies they would like to see from the Scottish Government in terms of a feminist approach to foreign policy; these suggestions and recommendations were written up by the authors, then circulated to all the participants for verification and comment.

Complementing these detailed recommendations, the following five cross-cutting key recommendations emerged from the consultations:

1. Support women’s organisations, feminist networks and other grassroots movements. The Scottish Government should further develop its political and financial support to women’s organisations and feminist networks (in particular, grassroots organisations and networks and those for rural and other marginalised women), marginalised communities and Indigenous peoples. Political support means enabling activists to influence global agendas and processes meaningfully.

2. Make funding feminist. Funding for women’s organisations and feminist networks needs to be accessible, flexible and long term, provided in a manner that enables communities to define and meet their own priorities, and with monitoring and evaluation aligned to what they understand as success. Eligibility, application, reporting and compliance processes must be as simple as possible, especially for small grants.

3. Be an innovator and influencer. Scotland, although small, should seek to be a “norm entrepreneur”. The Scottish Government should showcase on the global stage the alternative models of development and progressive policies it supports at home, such as the Wellbeing Economy, Community Wealth Building, Just Transition, Circular Economy, Equally Safe and gender budgeting. All these policies contribute to a more gender-just society, as well as being more generally fairer and greener, and should be promoted beyond Scotland. International partnerships will be central to making this happen.

4. Speak out for structural change. The Scottish Government may not have all the levers of an independent state, but it can provide moral and intellectual leadership by calling for the transformation of the global systems that drive gendered insecurities and inequalities. Its work on Loss and Damage shows Scotland can put issues on the agenda that bigger states are unwilling to address. The Scottish Government should seek to play a similarly progressive role in international development, peace and security, and trade justice to address gendered insecurities and inequalities at their root.

5. Ensure coherence between international, domestic and local policies. The Scottish Government should ensure that its domestic policies are in line with its efforts to be a good global citizen, and bring together different policy areas to work cooperatively toward feminist goals.

To take strong steps forward in developing and implementing its feminist approach to foreign policy, the Scottish Government should move quickly to set out its policy statement concerning its feminist approach to international engagement; ramp up communication with its staff and the Scottish people about the whys and hows of a feminist approach; and set up a standing consultation mechanism across Scottish communities and with Global South stakeholders (beyond the Global South panel) to ensure a feedback loop as the policy is implemented.


Email: minna.liinpaa@gov.scot

Back to top