April 18, 2022

Feminist Foreign Policy: How Annalena Baerbock rejected Toxic Masculinity in Russia.


“If you don’t toughen up and learn to hold your liquor, you’ll never become a leading politician.”

That’s what advisors told Annalena Baerbock before her first trip to Russia.

A few years later, Baerbock is the German Secretary of Foreign Relations—and she still doesn’t drink vodka when meeting Russians.

She visited her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in January. German conservatives already questioned her ability to deal with Lavrov before the trip.

The Russian politician, who is 30 years older than Baerbock and has already been in office for 18 years offered her a glass of vodka after lunch. She rejected politely.

But Lavrov didn’t accept that and played the toxic masculinity card by telling her to drink—but he wasn’t prepared for her response.

Baerbock replied, “If drinking vodka at noon is a test of toughness…I gave birth to two children.”

There are no reports on Lavrov’s reaction to this statement, but we can assume that he had no valid argument against that.

And this story is the perfect introduction to talk about “Feminist Foreign Policy.”

Some of you might remember that Baerbock originally wanted to take Angela Merkel’s position as the chancellor. But her campaign didn’t go that well, and the Green Party wasn’t able to win the election.

To be honest, I am still slightly upset and feel that she ruined it for the Green party. I still think that Robert Habeck would have been a more promising candidate, but that’s another story.

The weeks after the election must have been pretty challenging for Baerbock. Saying that she managed to make the best of it would be an understatement.

I always thought that she would be the perfect politician to represent Germany abroad. And the main reason for that is “Feminist Foreign Policy.”

Thanks to Baerbock, Germany became the fourth country after Sweden, Canada, and France to call its foreign policy approach “feminist.”

So, what does that actually mean? How does it translate into actual politics?

According to Wikipedia, here are the five main goals of Feminist Foreign Policy:

1. The fight against sexist and sexual violence.

Rape and sexual violence put women in danger in every armed conflict. The international community needs to take steps to protect the safety of women and girls in war zones.

This needs to be a priority, but it has never been—and that has to change.

2. The education of women and girls around the world.

Education is the key element when talking about equality. We need to make sure that girls get the same education as boys.

And we are far away from reaching this goal anytime soon. Time to take action!

3. Economic participation of women.

The international community also needs to enable women to make their own money. Again, this is pretty obvious, but apparently, those who ran international politics throughout the last decades did a terrible job on that.

It’s time to change that.

4. Female participation in politics.

There are a lot of female politicians in Europe and North America—but unfortunately, that’s about it. If we take a look around the world, we will immediately notice that most countries are run by men.

If we want more female perspectives, we need more female politicians. It’s as simple as that.

5. Female perspectives in peace negotiations.  

When talking about war, it’s not only about what’s happening on the battlefield. We also need to talk about food supplies, medical care, and safety.

If we want to understand the dynamics of a conflict, we cannot exclude half of the population from the conversation.

We need more women at the tables of peace negotiations, especially those who are affected the most by the cruelty of armed conflicts.

The world needs more female voices shaping international relations. We can see the results of men dominating diplomacy and foreign policies. We know that changes need to happen.

And Baerbock already used her power to make some of these changes.

Guess who she appointed to be the representative of Germany’s international climate policy? It’s Jennifer Morgan, the head of Greenpeace international.

As mentioned earlier in this article, I identify as a voter of the Green party. I am one of those who wanted Habeck in charge. Not because I prefer a man over a woman, simply because I think that he would have won.

It’s not Baerbock’s fault that Germany wasn’t ready for a true feminist to lead Germany after 16 years of Angela Merkel (who religiously avoided using this term).

It’s not her fault that she never had a chance of winning the election in 2021, but she could have seen that coming. It wasn’t fair. It showed the ugly side of Germany and its men in power.

But even Conservatives start acknowledging that she is doing a fantastic job at the moment. Maybe because they didn’t expect that?

And honestly, if someone told me 20 years ago that Germany would become an advocate for “Feminist Foreign Policy,” I would have laughed at them.

Now, I am laughing at those who taught me to feel that way.

Dear German boomer, the party is over.

Our Secretary of Foreign Affairs is a feminist, and our Secretary of the Economy is a vegetarian.

And I am probably not the only one in Germany who thinks that each of them would do a better job than Olaf Scholz (German chancellor).

Maybe next time?


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