ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Feminist Foreign Policy for India?

In terms of representation, India has made significant strides towards gender parity in its political, diplomatic, and military institutions but performs worse than other countries with similar developmental profiles. While India has several gender-sensitive foreign aid programmes, they need to be diversified.

The author is grateful to Dhruva Jaishankar for his extensive feedback and guidance on the paper and would like to thank Geetika Dang and Cassandra Berman for their detailed comments on the earlier drafts of this research. Any errors that may remain are those of the author alone.

In recent years, the notion of a feminist foreign policy has gained popularity. Sweden’s government has committed to gender equality being an objective in itself, but also one that is “essential for achieving the government’s other overall objectives, such as peace, security, and sustainable development.” Canada has promoted an explicitly “feminist international assistance policy” to address poverty around the world. France has developed an international strategy on gender equality, using aid to promote female empowerment. Other countries, such as Japan under ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “womenomics,” have made female equality a centrepiece of domestic reform (Groysberg et al 2017).

For India, the present moment is an opportune time to discuss the feasibility and prospects of a feminist foreign policy. Women’s political participation is at an all-time high: the 2019 general election saw female voter turnout matching those of the males. The number of women elected as members of Parliament (78) is also unprecedented. High-profile domestic development sch­e­mes—the provision of liquefied petroleum gas cylinders under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, small-scale financing under the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, and sundry other efforts at highlighting nari shakti (women power)—recognise women as a policy priority, with acknowledgement even by the President and the Prime Minister. Under these circumstances, is a feminist foreign policy possible?

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Updated On : 24th Aug, 2022
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