The acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, has today announced an Action Plan for 2023-2024 in application of the Feminist Foreign Policy Guide. This plan intends to promote practical results in the areas of gender inequality and discrimination; equality in the foreign service; and provides for dialogue and coordination mechanisms between the different players, as well as accountability.
Speaking at the press conference that followed the Council of Ministers, Albares defined the announced Plan as "a new instrument that is consistent with our determination to improve the situation of millions of women and girls in the world" after reiterating that we have been doing so with our development cooperation policy, with humanitarian aid, and with our defence of human rights.
The minister also pledged to continue encouraging more and more countries to join this key consensus in the development of our societies and in the building of peace. In this regard, he pointed out that the Spanish Government is carrying out a Feminist Foreign Policy that "is a hallmark of our foreign policy and of our image as a progressive, supportive and reliable country within the international context".
Albares explained that the announcement of this Plan comes at a time of turmoil in which the rights of women and girls in many countries are in serious decline. The gender "apartheid" in Afghanistan, with school girls being expelled from school and female workers from their jobs, or the violation of women's rights in Iran, make this Feminist Foreign Policy a "crucial axis" of our foreign action, according to Albares.
Despite these difficult circumstances, the acting Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Spain will continue to promote policies and initiatives in the area of gender equality. In this regard, he recalled that we are at the forefront of resolutions and declarations condemning the violation of both women and girls' rights - most recently in the cases of Iran and Afghanistan - as well as important initiatives that enable progress to be made in the fight against inequality.
The Plan presented by Albares adopts the dual conception of the Feminist Foreign Policy: on the one hand, it incorporates the gender perspective in all foreign policy actions and, on the other hand, it develops measures around Spain's five priorities within this field: women, peace and security; human rights; the ending of violence against women and girls; the participation and economic empowerment of women in all spheres of society.
The Plan is organised into four working axes, through which effectiveness is assured and Spain's commitments are fulfilled. To this end, it includes a Feminist Foreign Agenda that addresses gender inequalities and discrimination in the EU and multilateral -United Nations- spheres, in bilateral relations with all countries and in our international cooperation policy for development and humanitarian action.
Equality in the Foreign Service is a key aspect of this Plan, which implements the Third Plan for Gender Equality in the General State Administration in our Foreign Service, promoting parity in senior and executive bodies; measures that favour co-responsibility and the reconciliation of personal, family and working life; thus preventing sexual harassment or gender-based harassment; and educating and raising awareness about equality, changing the institutional culture of all the units that make up our Foreign Service.
The Plan foresees mechanisms for dialogue and coordination with different players that play a crucial role in implementing this feminist policy, both governmental and non-governmental, seeking to open up institutional and political arenas to improve the comprehensive nature of external action. To this end, the High-Level Advisory Group has been created, which includes, in addition to the Public Administration, the business sector, think tanks and scholars alike, and both development and feminist organisations.
Accountability is a key element of public policies, and this is what the Plan contemplates as regards Feminist Foreign Policy. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation will continue presenting an annual follow-up report to Parliament on the contribution of Feminist Foreign Policy to gender equality and the empowerment of both women and girls.