A Feminist Foreign Policy

Hosted by the LSE Library

Old Theatre, Old Building, United Kingdom


Sophie Walker

Leader of the Women's Equality Party


Professor Nicola Lacey

School Professor of Law, Gender and Social Policy

With the rising tide of nationalism and the negative likely impacts of Brexit on women, Sophie will talk about the need for feminist foreign policies. 

There is a rising tide of nationalism that is fuelling isolationism, protectionism and militarism across the world. These developments, rooted in an anti-global sentiment, have been exacerbated by a programme of austerity measures that have reduced investment in public sector jobs and services disproportionately harming women. Globally, states are failing to close the gender gap and women’s workplace rights and reproductive rights are being rolled back. Unchecked, these trends will lead to even greater gender inequality and human rights abuses and make violent confrontations within and between states more likely.    

Governments can never address the root causes of these trends through the prism of traditional foreign policy that is committed to preserving a clear distinction between “them and us” – UK nationals and foreign non-nationals. In particular, the government’s current stance over Brexit typifies the shortcomings of this approach, as does its discrimination against the Windrush generation, along with other knee jerk policies adopted by states to exclude migrants and refugees such as Donald Trump’s appalling family separation policy. 

The traditional foreign policy model is fundamentally ill-equipped to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, a new and transformative approach is needed that will redefine relationships at every level in our global society. A feminist foreign policy committed to a radical rethink founded on inclusivity, equality, and peace offers an alternative that can offer a more secure, fair and sustainable future for all.

Sophie Walker is the Leader of the Women’s Equality Party. In 2016 she ran for London Mayor in and gathered a quarter of a million votes. In 2017 she contested Conservative MP and ‘men’s rights activist’ Philip Davies in Shipley. 

A former Reuters correspondent of 20 years, Sophie came to politics via disability campaigning and activism, spurred to action after her daughter Grace was diagnosed with autism and met little support or understanding. Sophie is also an ambassador for the National Autistic Society and for IncludeMEtoo, a national charity supporting disabled children and their families from diverse backgrounds. 

Nicola Lacey is School Professor of Law, Gender and Social Policy. She is an Honorary Fellow of New College Oxford and of University College Oxford; a Fellow of the British Academy; and a member of the Board of Trustees of the British Museum. In 2017 she was awarded a CBE for services to Law, Justice and Gender Politics. 

The British Library of Political and Economic Science was founded in 1896, a year after the London School of Economics and Political Science. It has been based in the Lionel Robbins Building since 1978 and houses many world class collections, including The Women's Library.

Follow the debate on Twitter: #LSESuffrage18 and #LSEBrexit.


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