Ivanka Trump is in Berlin today in her official capacity as a “White House adviser,” to discuss women’s global economic empowerment. Leading up to this visit and her participation on a panel at the W20 Summit, Ms. Trump co-authored an op-ed with the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, which ran in Monday’s edition of The Financial Times. In it, they argue that the most powerful way to grow the global economy is to expand the role of women in business. This message, and Ivanka as the messenger, is both disingenuous and infuriating.
For those who don’t study or work on issues of women’s economic security, this op-ed is seemingly benign. It’s the information that has been omitted from the piece that is troubling. Mr. Kim and Ms. Trump cite research from The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, a report that speaks to the need to improve the divide between women and men’s parity in education, health, political power, and employment worldwide. And yet, their op-ed only speaks to expanding the role of women in employment. Meanwhile, the report explicitly links women’s education, health, political power, AND employment to achieving gender parity.
I find it hard to believe that Ivanka didn’t pick up on that when she read the report, but certainly Jim Yong Kim knows as much, seeing as he serves on the Board of Trustees for The World Economic Forum, the very entity that produced the report.
I think the omission of any mention of women’s health, education and political power from their op-ed is purposeful and done for very obvious political reasons. How on earth can Ivanka speak about improving women’s health worldwide when one of her father’s first executive orders reinstated the “global gag rule,” a ban on American non-governmental organizations abroad from discussing abortion. Donald Trump’s ban is an expansion to those enacted under previous Administrations and experts estimate that it will contribute to at least 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.1 million unsafe abortions, and 21,700 maternal deaths.
The health consequences from Trump’s expanded “Global Gag Rule” are not only dire for women worldwide, but according to The World Economic Forum, who has spoken out against Donald Trump’s “Global Gag Rule” Executive Order, “we will never achieve gender equality and economic empowerment for women without universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.” While it it’s sorely disappointing that Mr. Kim would support a blatant lie by omission in his joint op-ed with Ms. Trump, it’s just one more example of Ivanka Trump’s faux feminism.
If Ivanka Trump truly wants to support women’s empowerment and equality, here and abroad, she need only look back to the report that she cites. With regards to women’s education, she should promote access to all information, not just the information that allows her to tout her role as a champion of women. With regards to women’s health, since it’s clear that the ideology of his VP is driving those decisions, maybe Ivanka can frame the issue of women’s reproductive health in terms of dollars and cents for dear old dad. “If adolescent girls in Brazil and India were able to wait until their early twenties to have children, the increased economic productivity would equal more than $3.5 billion and $7.7 billion, respectively.” And finally, as far as political power is concerned, rather than capitalizing on her nepotism, maybe Ivanka can convince her President dad to hire some women who have actually studied these issues.