On women’s rights, Ivanka Trump is fooling no one

This is a shallow, neoliberal attempt at detoxifying the misogynist-in-chief

Image: Michael Vadon

From Marine Le Pen stepping down as Front National president, to Ivanka Trump discovering a sudden passion for women’s rights, the international far-right seems intent on insulting voters’ intelligence.

The first daughter was booed at a G20 women’s conference in Germany today, when she said she was proud of her father’s record on advocating for women. Asked about people’s suspicions about the president’s past comments she — in proud Trump tradition — blamed the media.

It’s entirely fair to scoff at Ivanka on this issue. She has virtually no record of advocating for women, and is clearly being deployed in an effort to detoxify the misogynist-in-chief. Her attempts to defend a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, attacks reproductive rights and denies the rights of immigrant and refugee women are laughable.

Moreover, her contribution could scarcely be shallower or more neoliberal. Writing for the FT today, Ivanka focuses exhaustively on how women’s empowerment benefits the economy at large, ignoring the questions of justice and equality.

Moreover, she is overwhelmingly concerned about women’s businesses, and their access to international markets:

“We know what works. We need to increase access to finance, redistribute care work, accelerate progress to financial inclusion, and offer programmes that train female entrepreneurs and help them access higher value markets. We need to develop new legal and regulatory frameworks to boost women’s growth and productivity. The right skills training enhances women’s capacity to manage their businesses. And mentorship opportunities and access to networks bring learning opportunities and connections to capital and markets.”

Of course, women’s enterprise is important. But this relentless focus reflects a Trump family bias in favour of private sector ventures, invariably launched by a small number of already-privileged women. Much more salient issues — such as gender-based violence, poverty and reproductive health — fall by the wayside.

Indeed, when she was challenged on the audience’s distrust of her father at today’s event, Ivanka defended him on the basis of their personal relationship:

“So I think in my personal experience, and you were asking me as a daughter and also an adviser, as a daughter I can speak on a very personal level knowing he encouraged me and enabled me to thrive. I grew up in a house where there was no barriers to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.”

That may well be true. But what Ivanka fails to understand is that President Trump’s attitude towards his own immensely privileged family is not a guide to how he will view and treat millions of women in the United States and billions around the world.

On that front, his political record speaks for itself.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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