The first ever conference of women foreign ministers took place in Canada last year. Ministers from 17 countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda and SA, attended.

Before the meeting Sweden and Canada had already committed to pursuing feminist foreign policy. This focuses on the abolition of all forms of gender domination and oppression and aims to overcome gender stereotypes. It also seeks to give women the opportunity to participate in decision-making, to represent the state, and execute the “hard” issues related to a country’s external relations and status.

For policies like this to be implemented, women need to be appointed to key foreign policy and diplomatic positions. And women issues need to be added to foreign policy principles, priorities and objectives. SA is one of at least 17 countries that has a woman foreign minister. Since 1994, all but one of the country’s foreign ministers have been women. My research aims to determine whether female foreign affairs ministers — and the presence of other women in the foreign policy establishment — mean that SA’s foreign policy embodies the principles of feminism. Feminism in SA’s foreign policy SA’s post-apartheid foreign policy has been extensively studied and written about. But there’s scant feminist analysis of the policy. And the country itself doesn’t describe its foreign policy as feminist but rather as having women on its foreign policy agenda. Race and patriarchy have historically subjugated the position of women leaders in SA. Both white and black women in SA have culturally bee...

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