(Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images)
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Ivanka Trump advocated for the greater inclusion of women in the Saudi Arabian workforce on Sunday as the World Bank announced that Arab countries had contributed $100 million toward a global women’s initiative she has championed.
“Saudi Arabia’s progress, especially in recent years, is very encouraging but there’s still a lot of work to be done and freedoms and opportunities to continue to fight for,” Trump said at a women’s roundtable in Riyadh as her father, President Trump, met separately with Arab leaders.
“In every country around the world women and girls continue to face unique systematic, institutional, cultural barriers, which hinder us from fully engaging in and achieving true parody of opportunity within our communities,” she said. “Each of you know this to be true. And yet the stories of Saudi women, such as yourselves, catalyzing change, inspire me to believe in the possibility of global women’s empowerment.”
Women in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from driving or travelling alone, and society imposes strict segregation of the sexes in public places. Reporters were escorted out of the event before those issues could come up.
But there have also been reforms, including curbs on the enforcement power of religious police and the king’s grant of voting rights in local elections.
Headlining the discussion with prominent Saudi women, Ivanka Trump showcased her position as a distinctly female voice in a White House where men outnumber women two-to-one in top policy positions. “As a female leader within the Trump administration, my focus is to help empower women in the United States and around the globe,” she said Sunday.
Among the issues she’s advocated to her father: More generous child care and family leave policies, which she said would be included in the budget that Trump will propose to Congress this week.
“The need to empower and engage women transcends borders and cultures. Whether in the United States or in Saudi Arabia, women play a critical role in a movement that unites us all,” she said.
Trump was invited to the event by Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar, a retail executive, women’s sports promoter, divorced mother and social activist who has emerged as a leading voice for women’s rights in the socially conservative country. It’s through the retail industry that Reema and Ivanka first met. “That life in retail took us through to various journeys and exposed us actually to what other women’s experiences in the workplace were,” Reema said.
Trump’s comments came at a forum at which World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a combined $100 million towards a proposed $1 billion global women’s entrepreneurship fund — an initiative pushed by Ivanka Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“We thought it was a fantastic idea,” Kim said. “But we had no idea how quickly this would build. This is really a stunning achievement. I’ve never seen anything come together so quickly, and I really have to say that Ivanka’s leadership has been tremendous.”
via : usatoday