Our new podcast says F! It! to foreign policy as we know it


IWDA has just launched our first ever podcast –  F! It!: exploring feminist and First Nations approaches to foreign policy. 

But why these topics? Why a podcast? And – importantly – why us?  

Feminist critiques of foreign policy have existed for as long as we’ve had feminists. But the idea of a government formally committing to a feminist approach through their foreign policy is only 10 years old. For most of these 10 years, IWDA has been advocating for Australia to align its foreign policy with a feminist approach and actively contributing to global discussions about what feminist foreign policy (FFP) means in practice – our role here is pretty clear as a feminist organisation! 

But when it comes to First Nations foreign policy, it’s less clear what kind of role IWDA – an Australian based, non-Indigenous organisation – should play.  

It’s a question we take really seriously as part of our organisational commitment to decolonising our feminist practice. The 4S framework outlined in our Strategic Plan 2025 helps us think through when we should:   

  • STEP UP and use our power to leverage resources for women’s rights organisations, and make our own contribution to feminist movements 
  • STAND WITH feminist movements in solidarity and amplify the work of Majority World actors
  • STEP BACK when others are better placed to take the lead 
  • SIT WITH uncertainty, embrace communal learning and deep listening, and accept that time is needed to collectively discern the best course of action.

We also think about our research and advocacy work as a cycle of knowledge translation – creating, surfacing, and sharing knowledge in ways that lead to impact which, in turn, raises more questions that we can then create and share more evidence and knowledge about.

For example, in 2019 we co-hosted a roundtable to surface the perspectives of Majority World women on the principles and accountability mechanisms that are required for FFP – creating a publication that stands with Majority World movements by amplifying their priorities for FFP 

In 2021, we stepped up to conduct the From Seeds to Roots research exploring the trajectories different countries have taken to get these political commitments in place – responding to an evidence gap we identified in our own advocacy to the Australian Government. 

From Seeds to Roots led us to create the Australian Feminist Foreign Policy Coalition (AFFPC) to broaden and diversify the voices advocating on FFP in Australia. The AFFPC Issues Paper Series grew out of this, becoming a way for us to stand with advocates within this space as we built a platform where we could amplify the expertise and lived experience of others.  

Fittingly, the first issue of the AFFPC Issues Paper Series explored First Nations approaches to foreign policy. Indigenous Foreign Policy: A new way forward? by First Nations academics James Blackwell and Julie Ballangarry became absolutely central to informing IWDA’s thinking on feminist foreign policy. For a country like Australia, which was founded on the dispossession and massacre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and continues to exclude their voices from all areas of policy making, we cannot talk about feminism without First Nations justice.  

This paper opened the door for a roundtable on the topic with Senator Penny Wong, which was influential in her decision to adopt a First Nations foreign policy approach when she came to government in 2022. 

Since then, we have been sitting with the question of what role IWDA should play in this space, acknowledging that we are not a First Nations organisation, but are deeply committed to First Nations justice in line with our feminist and decolonial approaches to our work. While they come from different starting points, there are also lots of commonalities between feminist and First Nations critiques of foreign policy – one of the most important being that they both speak from a perspective of marginalisation and seek to challenge the global power structures which shape our world. 

In that process of sitting with, we have been privileged to meet with many leading First Nations foreign policy thinkers who had incredible contributions to make on this topic, and realised we could create a platform to bring their insights to a wider audience. 

That’s where F! It! comes in. To develop the podcast, we worked closely with Julie Ballangarry – Gumbaynggirr/Dunghutti woman, academic and AFFPC member, who co-authored the foundational AFFPC Issues Paper on this topic. The podcast explores the perspectives of First Nations and feminist experts and practitioners to transform foreign policy as we know it. Drawing on Julie’s expertise and teaching background, the podcast uses a narrative lens to build the listener’s knowledge of feminist and First Nations foreign policy concepts and practice throughout the episodes. In each interview, Julie’s discussion is guided by an Indigenous yarning methodology centred around sharing and relationship-building – creating a space where each guests’ knowledge and experiences can be shared freely.  

In other words, it’s a must-listen for anyone looking to learn more about feminists and First Nations approaches to foreign policy directly from those most in the know.  

Catch up on the episodes already released – featuring interviews with ANU academic and Research Fellow in Indigenous Diplomacies James Blackwell, IWDA’s Alice Ridge, Chair of the UN’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Dr Sheryl Lightfoot and Australia’s inaugural Ambassador for First Nations People Justin Mohamed – and make sure to subscribe to be the first to know when the next episode it out!