Is US Foreign Policy Feminist?

feminist foreign policy representation survey

This is a year of milestones for women: the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women, the 20th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the 100th Anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. In this context, Our Secure Future commissioned a poll of 1,500 registered voters in the U.S. to get a sense of how they view foreign policy decision-makers, whether they see themselves represented in that arena, and whether they consider themselves to be a feminist. The results illuminate some thinking on these issues and are useful to decision-makers and advocates alike as they develop and debate foreign and national security policy.

According to the poll, almost 60 percent of respondents do NOT think that those who have made U.S. foreign policy and national security decisions over the last decade generally share their beliefs and interests. 22 percent were unsure. Here are some more details:

  • There was a gap between women (55%) and men (64%). 

  • There was a wider gap between Democrats (50%) and Republicans (67%)/Independents (64%). 

  • There was an even wider gap between those who frequently watch MSNBC (44%) and Fox News (68%). 

  • Surprisingly, a greater percentage of white respondents (62%) do not feel represented in U.S. foreign policy and national security institutions than black (49%) or Hispanic (51%) respondents. 

The same poll showed that less than half (48%) of those surveyed think that women are sufficiently represented in the U.S. government when it comes to making decisions about foreign policy and national security. Additional details:

  • The largest gap was based on political party affiliation with 10 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans believing that women are sufficiently represented. Independents were split (42% yes/41% no)

  • There was also a gap between women (35%) and men (44%).

  • The widest gap was between those who frequently watch MSNBC (5%) and Fox News (74%).

The survey also found that party affiliation and age were affiliated with whether a respondent thinks of her/himself as a "feminist".

  • 59 percent of Democrats said they consider themselves a feminist (62% for frequent MSNBC viewers), but just 7 percent of Republicans and frequent Fox News viewers did.

  • 50 percent of 18-34 year-olds said “yes” to the feminist label while 29 percent of those over 65 years did.

  • Black (47%) and Hispanic (49%) respondents were more likely to think of themselves as feminists than white ones (30%). 

This information -- while preliminary -- can help guide discussions and provide background for work being done to advance policy proposals around Women, Peace and Security, and a more inclusive foreign policy.