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Is a feminist foreign policy possible for the European Union? Dr Toni Haastrup lecture

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Envisioning Europe lecture series

In recent years, the European Union (EU) has adopted some feminist principles in both its internal and external relations practices. Drawing on feminism in approaches to policy can help draw attention to the inequalities in the economic, political and social life of a society, in this case the EU. Furthermore, it has created increasd attention paying to the lived experiences of women, girls and other gender minorities at home and abroad. This move towards a greater inclusion of feminism has been informed by both internal drivers and external commitments, which this talk will unpack. Yet despite the inclusion of feminist principles as an important progressive step in the EU’s policymaking for external relations, particularly through the development of gender equality policies aimed at the Global South, significant blind spots remain which call into question the EU’s overarching feminist credentials. This lecture will make the case for feminism as a perspective that extends beyond gender equality, an area where the EU is clearly a leader. Gender equality is an important and necessary but insufficient condition for a feminist foreign policy. Promoting gender equality as a synonym for a ‘feminist’ foreign policy without the moral and ethical commitments it denotes, not only undermines the transformative potential of feminism, but also its role and reputation as driver for a peace and security in the Global South.

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Toni Haastrup is Professor in International Politics at the University of Stirling. A feminist researcher and teacher, her work seeks to understand prevailing global power hierarchies that inform cooperation and conflict within the international system. Her work has explored the politics of knowledge making in the context of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Global South perspectives on Feminist Foreign Policy and the gendered and racialised nature of responses to contemporary crises. Professor Haastrup’s current research provides feminist analysis on the foreign policy of Global North actors in the Global South, especially around the WPS agenda. Much of this work is centred on the activities of formal institutions like the African and European Unions. She has published extensively in each of these fields. Professor Haastrup is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Common Market Studies. She is an experienced speaker and an occasional media commentator.

Moderated by Prof. Agnieszka Graff, associate professor at the University of Warsaw’s  American Studies Center. Prof. Graff is a feminist activist and public intellectual, regular contributor to liberal media outlets and the author of four books of feminist essays in Polish, including World without Women and Mother and Feminist. She is an active participant in the Polish Women’s Congress.

Introduction by Dr. Constanze Itzel, Museum Director of the House of European History.

In the light of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the House of European History is organising an online lecture series entitled ‘Envisioning Europe.’ From 22 June 2021 to 19 July 2022, the museum will share its floor with 12 prominent historians to exchange insights into Europe past and present. Voices from outside Europe will also contribute to contextualising this dialogue with external perspectives. Each lecture includes a moderated Q&A session.