White House to unveil a global women's empowerment initiative, led by Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Trump, 37, first became interested in gender equality when she worked in the corporate world.
Ivanka Trump, 37, first became interested in gender equality when she worked in the corporate world.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - US President Donald Trump is planning to introduce an initiative on Thursday (Feb 7) that will seek to help bring economic security to 50 million women across the world by 2025, a programme that his eldest daughter Ivanka Trump has hailed as a non-partisan and "generous" approach to women's empowerment.

The plan, which the White House is calling the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, will draw from a US$50 million starter fund from the US Agency for International Development, and will team up with several private companies, including UPS and Walmart, Ivanka Trump said.

The White House is expected to officially announce the initiative on Thursday afternoon.

The Trump administration has often been guided by an isolationist credo espoused by the President and his advisers: Last year, an administration plan to cut USAID's foreign aid budget was met with a bipartisan backlash.

Ivanka Trump's initiative was meant to strike a subtly different tone.

"'America First' does not mean 'America Alone,'" Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to the President and a champion of the initiative, said in a call with reporters on Wednesday as she detailed the roll-out. "We are proud to be the most generous nation in the world."

She hosted the call the evening after her father's State of the Union address, which included a standout moment when the President talked about gains in women's employment in the United States.

The caucus of Democratic congresswomen, many of whom ran on platforms opposing Trump's policies, stood and cheered.

 
 

The plan had been on track to be announced last month, but the partial government shutdown delayed the formal roll-out.

Ivanka Trump will attend the Munich Security Conference next week in Germany to promote the programme as a plan to help bolster the global economy and to draw a stronger link between women's economic empowerment and national security, a senior White House official with knowledge of the plan said on Wednesday.

Trump, 37, first became interested in gender equality when she worked in the corporate world - she once started a "Women Who Work" hashtag to sell her branded merchandise. During her time at the White House, she has had her father's ear on issues regarding women and families.

Last year, Trump helped start a World Bank fund with the goal of generating US$1.6 billion in capital for female entrepreneurs in developing countries, and she has tried to work with members of Congress to advance initiatives she cares about, including the Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act.

And during his State of the Union address this week, the President said he was proud to call for such a provision in his Budget - an idea championed by his daughter.

But Ivanka Trump has also faced scrutiny for supporting equality measures even as legions of Trump administration critics say her father is rolling back protections for marginalised groups.

"Suddenly, after my father declared his candidacy, it became that all the things that I was doing that I was praised for, the same people, the critics, viewed them through this different lens," Trump told The New York Times in 2017. "Somehow, all the same things they applauded me for as a millennial, as a female entrepreneur, were now viewed very cynically as opportunistic."

Despite her efforts, the criticism has persisted in highly visible ways. This week, she responded to news reports that an artist had created an exhibition in Washington that encouraged visitors to throw crumbs at an Ivanka Trump look-alike, who would then vacuum up the detritus.

"Women can choose to knock each other down or build each other up," Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. "I choose the latter."