We don’t deserve Saint Ivanka, we really don’t. Nobody asked Donald Trump’s favourite child to devote her life to empowering women, she just knew it had to be done. Nobody elected her to serve in the US government, but she took a senior role in her father’s administration anyway. And not content with simply empowering the women of the US, the patron saint of nepotists, hypocrites and grifters has altruistically taken her talents on tour.
On Sunday, the first daughter and presidential adviser set off on a four-day trip to Ethiopia and Ivory Coast to promote the US government’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative (W-GDP), which aims to benefit 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.
The programme was launched with a $50m (£38m) fund, which is less than the cost of the president’s trips to Mar-a-Lago (by one estimate, the president’s Florida sojourns have cost taxpayers at least $64.6m). Of course, that doesn’t factor in Ivanka’s time and expertise, which is priceless. Who knows how many Ethiopian women she has empowered already. I am sure she has taught Sahle-Work Zewde, a respected career diplomat and Ethiopia’s first female president, a thing or two.
Ivanka’s superpower, inherited from her father, is that she believes her own spin. She seems genuinely to see herself as a champion of women – despite the fact that she has remained silent as her father has systematically attacked women’s rights. The W-GDP was announced two days after Trump’s State of the Union address, in which he pandered to his base by pushing inflammatory lies about abortion.
Ivanka had nothing to say about that. Indeed, Ivanka has had little to say about abortion in general. When asked in 2016 to give her views on the subject, she would say only: “I don’t talk about my politics.” Actions speak louder than words, however: last year, Ivanka campaigned for Kim Reynolds, the governor of Iowa, who signed one of the strictest abortion bans in the US.
You can’t separate women’s economic empowerment from women’s reproductive rights. But the Trump administration is doing just that. It has expanded a federal directive known as the “global gag rule”, meaning that NGOs that perform or promote abortions anywhere are refused all US government health funding, including for family planning, HIV, primary care, nutrition, and malaria.
Numerous gender-equality advocates have pointed out that this policy is a significant impediment to the W-GDP’s goal of assisting women economically. Ivanka, of course, doesn’t seem bothered. Why focus on depressing details when you can retweet cute videos of yourself at a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony instead?
Having empowered and inspired Ethiopians, Ivanka is off to Ivory Coast. On Wednesday, she will attend a summit for female entrepreneurs with World Bank officials. Then it is back to the US, where she will no doubt remain silent as her father continues to vilify immigrants, separate migrant mothers from their children, advance an anti-abortion agenda and incite violence against one of the first Muslim congresswomen.