11 July, 2019
Ivanka Trump is supporting an initiative to give women more financial power around the developing world. The effort by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced its first actions. For example, it is giving $27 million to projects in 22 countries.
The project also reported its first real success --- helping to change family law in Ivory Coast to make it fairer for women.
Trump took part in a group discussion organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, on Wednesday. She said that the economic empowerment of women is "smart" for nations that want development assistance and "critically important" for a country's national security.
If you look at the countries that have high levels of gender discrimination, "80% of them have experienced armed conflict" in the last 20 years, said Trump, who is the daughter of the U.S. president.
Women's development initiative
The Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, W-GDP, began in February with an investment of $50 million from USAID. Its goal is to help 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 through U.S. government activities, private-public partnerships, and a new fund that works to create those partnerships.
USAID Administrator Mark Green said that "investing in women builds countries that are resilient."
The projects include an effort in Rwanda to help women enter the country's energy industry, and a Latin American initiative that aims to give women the skills needed to work in the technology industry in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
Ivanka Trump is an adviser to the president. She pointed to the government of Ivory Coast, which has recently updated the country's family laws to make them better for women. She said she pushed for those changes during her meeting with Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan on her trip to Abidjan in April.
"We were really excited to...celebrate Cote d'Ivoire changing their marriage law," Trump said, using the official country name. The new law will permit women to buy property and to inherit property.
In 2018, the World Economic Forum ranked Ivory Coast 131 out of 144 in gender equality. The government has promised to improve conditions for women as part of the agreement for receiving U.S. government grants through the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
MCC is an independent foreign assistance agency that leads U.S. government efforts to fight poverty around the world. It was created by Congress in 2004.
US policy continuation
Trump describes the initiative as the "first whole-of-government effort to advance...women's economic empowerment." However, demanding greater economic power for women as part of U.S. foreign policy continues a policy from the administration of former president Barack Obama.
Jamille Bigio is with the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C.
Bigio said that the MCC decides if it should invest in a country partly based on how women take part in the workforce. She said that foreign governments in the past have taken action as a part of requesting investment from the MCC. She pointed to the country of Lesotho, which stopped considering women as children under the law in 2006.
Daniel Runde is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said the U.S. government has worked on women's economic development for a long time. But, he added, it is true that Ivanka Trump is working to bring many parts of the U.S. government together on this issue.
Programs that support women's issues
U.S. development programs, including W-GDP, push countries to change their laws to improve the lives of women and minorities.
Ivanka Trump appears to have taken on the cause of global women empowerment and to have supported it at several international events. These include the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. It was launched at the Group of 20 Summit in 2017. She also has supported WomenConnect, a USAID program from 2018 that seeks to increase women's knowledge of digital technology.
Legal barriers to women in economic issues is expected to be discussed at the Group of 7 leaders meeting in Biarritz, France, next month.
I'm Susan Shand.
VOA's Patsy Widakuswara reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.
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Words in This Story
initiative – n. a plan or program that is intended to solve a problem
gender – n. the state of being male or female
fund – n. an amount of money that is used for a special purpose
resilient – adj. able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
inherit – v. to receive (money, property, etc.) from someone when that person dies
grant – n. an amount of money that is given to someone by a government, a company, etc., to be used for a particular purpose
rank – v. to place (someone or something) in a particular position among a group of people or things that are being judged according to quality, ability, size, etc.
advance – v. to move forward
digital – adj. using or characterized by computer technology