Will Trump’s new initiative really empower women?
In February this year President Trump launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W- GDP) initiative, a project superheaded by Ivanka Trump to advance global women’s economic empowerment.
W-GDP seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 through US government activities, private-public partnerships, and a new, innovative fund at USAID, initially set by President Trump at $50 million.
Framed as a component of his National Security Strategy, W-GDP builds around three core pillars of intervention. The first pillar, “women prospering in the workforce,” advocates for workforce development, vocational and skills training to increase women’s labour force participation. The second, “women succeeding as entrepreneurs,” seeks to increase the access of women entrepreneurs to financing, markets opportunities, and training to help women grow their businesses. The third pillar, “women enabled in the economy,” aims to remove legal, regulatory and cultural barriers that inhibit women’s equal participation in the economy.
President Trump said its administration will also continue to prioritise and support women’s economic empowerment domestically.
The expert’s view
Amee Vanderpool is a lawyer and writer. She is also the director of The Inanna Project, a non-profit organisation based in Washington DC, USA, that advocates for Equal Protection under the law for all women. Here she shares her thoughts on the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative.
Women’s rights under the Trump Administration
“Immediately after taking office in January of 2017, the Trump Administration re-instated a Reagan-Era gag rule which essentially allows U.S. presidents to fight the country’s domestic abortion wars abroad by denying humanitarian aid to any organisation that “perform[s] or actively promote[s] abortion as a method of family planning,” in any aspect of their work. Trump expanded the global gag-rule further to extend to 40 countries who received US aid for family planning and close to 60 countries who received aid for general global health. This meant that organisations that addressed everything from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS to tropical diseases and vaccinations were affected and no longer had access to critical funding to keep women and children alive, which forms the basis of all female empowerment initiatives.
Making sure that women have access to healthcare is the very first step in making sure that women feel empowered by making sure that they are healthy and alive. The Trump Administration destroyed all of these gains in services and protections and set the scale of global female empowerment back over 50 years.
From October 2017, the Trump Administration also halted an Obama-era initiative aimed at fighting employer discrimination against women and minorities that was initiated a year earlier and set to take effect in 2017.
The halted rule would have legally compelled companies to submit additional information about employees and wages to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was based on six years research and consultation with employers, companies that process pay data, academics and groups focused on curbing workplace discrimination without any real input from equal-pay advocates or conducting meaningful research before shutting it down. The critical data set to be reported to the government from this program would have formed the basis for more legislation in correcting disproportionate pay in the workforce. Despite claims that the WGDP seeks to correct it, the Trump Administration purposely halted the means by which to do this effectively.
This is the biggest example where the Trump Administration took an active role in suppressing the advancement of women in the United States. To now claim to champion the empowerment of women in the workplace, while halting the pre-existing protections for women in the areas of workplace discrimination, is not only inaccurate, it’s insulting.”
“The launching of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative likely serves two purposes. Firstly, it seeks to provide a vanity project for Ivanka Trump to help combat the bad press she continues to receive for claiming she is motivated by feminist issues and female empowerment. The pushback on the White House claims that Ivanka intends to serve as some sort of brand ambassador for modern day feminism is pervasive. In August of 2017, when Donald Trump announced that he would be halting the equal pay rule put in place by the Obama administration, Ivanka Trump said nothing and did nothing while continue claiming that she stands for women’s equality and even going so far as to use the Equal Pay hashtag when it looked to serve her branding needs.
Another purpose of this WGDP initiative likely serves as a campaigning tool for Trump in 2020. He is able to sell his base concepts that are rarely based in fact or action and by creating an initiative in name only, he will be able to refer to this fake initiative in response to the many Democratic women who will be running against him, pushing their platforms on legitimate initiatives for Equal Rights. It will serve to exist in name and theory only and he will be able to sell it like he sells everything else. They have no intention of putting actual programs into place, as they have halted all of the programs which would form the basis for doing so.
We are in a dangerous time in the United States where the limited protections legally afforded to women in the Unites States have been rolled back and very few people are adequately informed about what this really means or how it might directly or indirectly affect them. With the minimal Obama-era protections now gone, women are under attack.
The current state of uncertainty for healthcare in the United States also serves to make equal opportunity a difficult and misunderstood proposition for women. The right to a safe and legal abortion is under extreme attack in many states with legislators even going so far as to mandate that rapists have access to a child that a woman was forced to carry to term.
In order to understand the limitations for women with regard to access to education and opportunity, you have to understand the basis for disproportionate opportunity, which starts with access to proper and comprehensive healthcare and complete autonomy over her body and the decisions regarding family planning. The chances of falling behind in education and earning increase exponentially based on how many children a woman is forced to pay and care for.
The Trump Administration’s continuous attempts to control women’s economic viability through access to proper healthcare and the ability to make informed decisions that are best for themselves, forms the basis for the ongoing struggle at a very basic level for women to compete. The protections which seek to create a truly equal workforce, complete with Equal Pay and Equal Opportunity have been purposely eradicated. Women are still not provided with the basic protections afforded the category of race without an Equal Rights Protection.
To add insult to injury, the Trump Administration has essentially declared a war on women and the advancement of women while putting a false image of feminism and equality forward in the guise of Ivanka Trump. Fake policies, like the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative are a cover for what is really taking place-the systematic and intentional attack on women.”
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