DUBAI - Ivanka Trump praised Sunday a handful of Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for embracing “significant reforms” to advance women's rights.
“We know that when women are free to succeed, families thrive, communities flourish and nations are stronger,” the daughter of US President Donald Trump told a gathering of women entrepreneurs and regional leaders in Dubai.
The 38-year-old White House adviser is spearheading initiatives that broadly back women's empowerment.
Ivanka Trump touted what she said was the progress of women in the United States while delivering the keynote address at the two-day Global Women’s Forum themed “The Power of Influence”.
“Today, American women are leading in every aspect of society. Last year, there were more women than men in the United States workforce, with women securing over 70% of new jobs,” she said.
She congratulated Saudi Arabia for recent changes in the law that allow women to travel abroad and obtain a passport without the permission of a male relative.
In 2018, a ban on women driving cars was lifted. The changes are part of a wide-ranging push to transform the Saudi economy, attract greater foreign investment and ease international criticism.
Trump also lauded changes in other Arab countries.
She said Bahrain had introduced legislation against discrimination in the workplace; Jordan had eliminated legal restrictions on women's ability to work at night; Morocco had expanded women's land rights; and Tunisia had introduced laws to combat domestic violence.
She said, though, more work needed to be done.
She noted that across the region, women on average still have only half the legal rights of men.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have worked to cultivate close ties with the Trump administration and were early supporters of the Women's Empowerment Fund, a World Bank initiative to help female entrepreneurs that Ivanka Trump strongly backs.
During the first trip abroad of her father's presidency to Saudi Arabia, the two Gulf countries pledged $100 million to the fund.
In her speech at Sunday's forum, Trump commended Emirati leaders for “removing barriers to women joining the workforce and developing a national strategy that recognizes that women are central to sustainable growth.”
She noted that although 70% of Emirati university graduates are women, only 10% of the UAE's total national income is derived from women.
“We know that this going to grow and flourish in the years ahead,” she said.
During her two-day visit to the UAE, Trump met with women entrepreneurs and discussed a US government project she's leading that's aimed at helping women in developing countries. The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative was launched last year with backing by her father.
On Saturday, she toured Abu Dhabi's grand mosque, visited Abu Dhabi's branch of the Louvre Museum, and met privately with the country's day-to-day ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.