Gender Equality as a Brand in Icelands Foreign Policy

Kristín Sandra Karlsdóttir, Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir


This study explores the branding of gender equality in Iceland’s foreign policy. It also attempts to identify the methods used for branding, and the factors leading to the use of gender equality as a brand. The study builds on a broad theoretical base, drawing from small state theories, nation branding, and feminist international relations. The study builds on five in-depth interviews with current and former Foreign Service members in Iceland. Discourse analysis was employed to analyze the data, resulting in three main themes which are explored. These are; gender equality as a brand, methods of branding, and supply and demand. The study finds that branding is conducted sub-consciously, appearing as a rich emphasis on the field throughout the Icelandic Foreign Service, at home and abroad. A more targeted branding is also present when it comes to the engagement of men in the discussion of gender equality. Iceland employs three main methods of branding: Gender equality, agenda setting, and international cooperation. Supply and demand appears to be the main reason for Iceland to choose gender equality as a brand. Iceland has a lot to offer, has taken the lead on the issue and earned the attention of the international community for its efforts. This attention has encouraged the state to continue its work in the field. Nonetheless, the status and the purpose for which it is sought must be scrutinized.


Branding; gender equality; Icelandic foreign policy.

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Published by the Institute of Public Administration and Politics of the Faculty of Political Science, University of Iceland.

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