Ivanka Trump is back from Ivanka-ing in Africa, where she, through the White House’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, has pledged to “deliver smart development assistance to empower women to succeed in their economies.”
In an op-ed for CNN, Ivanka wrote about meeting women across the continent who have surmounted immeasurable odds to work and create business opportunities for other women. “Their stories are tangible proof of what is possible if we deliver smart development assistance to empower women to succeed in their economies,” she writes.
As always, Ivanka hopes to “empower women,” especially “women in the workplace.” But, as she pays lip service to empowerment, she represents an administration that has slashed their access to critical healthcare.
That Ivanka Trump has no credibility on women’s issues is by now a pretty straightforward thing. She worked very hard to get her father elected, now works for him, and has worked very hard to aide this administration through its many cruelties. So why give her an op-ed line to bullshit, then?
Just a few days after he took office, Donald Trump signed an executive order barring U.S. aid to any foreign-based organization that performs, promotes, or offers information about abortion. Per the Washington Post, the consequences of these policies, the so-called “global gag rule,” are so far-reaching that the total impact is still unknown. It’s clear, however, that the policy has hurt a broad range of health clinics in developing nations, where “abortion-related services are often integrated into general health care in poor nations,” including treatment for malaria and HIV. The White House explained the decision to expand the aid ban by telling the Washington Post that “when we design programs to end malaria or HIV/AIDS or maternal mortality, we don’t intend to fund the abortion industry.”
In some rural areas, this means that women can’t access contraception or get basic medical care because the clinic also provides patients with information about abortion services. Clinics that have refused to comply with rules that lead to suboptimal care have been forced to close locations, leaving some areas with severely limited access.
The Trump administration’s hardline stance against abortion also hurts victims of sexual violence. While Ivanka, in her op-ed writes that the White House initiative is “committed to combat grave human rights injustices, such as child and forced marriage, gender-based violence, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation and abuse,” the White House threatened to veto a United Nations resolution to combat sexual violence over including references to “sexual and reproductive health” or the word “gender,” on grounds that the resolution would promote abortion or transgender rights. The United Nations caved to the demands and in April, passed a watered-down version of the resolution.
Ivanka’s op-ed omits the fact that the policies that she and her administration enforce are holding back the very women she hopes to empower. Like her empty-calorie feminism, it sounds nice, but ultimately means nothing. Why let her pretend otherwise?