A few weeks ago, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, denounced Saudi Arabia’s subjugation of women and disregard for human rights, calling Raif Badawi’s sentence of 1,000 lashes “mediaeval.”
She was staying true to her principles, personal and those publicly declared – she took office as Sweden’s foreign minister on a platform of feminist foreign policy.
Rather than public support throughout the Western world, she has been met by disheartening and upsetting silence in Europe and North America, and worse, pressure from Swedish businesses who want her to back down from her position.
Writing in Open Democracy, WILPF’s Secretary General Madeleine Rees said “There are choices that we have to make. We can have foreign policies that give succor to regimes that kill, torture and maim their own citizens, or we can choose a fundamental change in the way we do business and demand foreign policies that promote human rights.
“Margot Wallström showed us what can be done when we put principles and human decency above ‘business as usual.’ This is what a feminist foreign policy looks like.
“She needs support and we should let it be known that she has it.”