Senate debates

Tuesday, 31 August 2021



1:34 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Yesterday I spoke about the crisis in Afghanistan and the impact on the people of Afghanistan of Australia's invasion and the 20 years of war. Often, when we raise these issues we hear, 'What are the alternatives of going to war?' and, 'How else could we have addressed the issue of terrorism and the scourge of the Taliban 20 years ago?' We can approach our foreign policy and our defence policy differently. There are alternatives to going to war.

I particularly want to mention a feminist approach to foreign policy that is being developed around the globe. The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy says:

… a feminist approach to foreign policy … challenges the modus operandi of current political processes. It means ensuring equal participation across all hierarchies in all institutions shaping and implementing foreign policy, from ministries to embassies and implementing partners. It constantly evaluates whether political processes allow for equal influence of the politically marginalised, and actively seeks the cooperation of civil society actors promoting gender equality and the rights of political minorities. A feminist foreign policy also acknowledges the continuing colonial legacies within foreign affairs and actively works to overcome them. Most importantly, a feminist foreign policy always champions co-operation over domination. It fosters partnerships and inclusion over of domination and exclusion. It emphasises the shared communalities of human beings across the globe instead of reinforcing divisions and distinguishing between "us" and "them".

By having a feminist approach to foreign policy we are actually supporting collaboration. I think there is a lot that we could be learning in Australia. Rather than immediately thinking, 'We have a conflict; there are problems; we've got to go to war,' there are collaborative approaches to be doing things differently.