POLITICS

Saudi Arabia, UAE Donate $100 Million To Women’s Fund Proposed By Ivanka Trump

Last year, Donald Trump attacked the Clinton Foundation, which both countries have donated to.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are donating $100 million to a women’s empowerment fund proposed by Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s elder daughter and a senior White House adviser. 

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced the contribution to the World Bank Women Entrepreneurs Fund at a meeting in Riyadh between Ivanka Trump and 15 Saudi women Sunday, during the president’s trip to Saudi Arabia.

Ivanka Trump helped inspire the fund, which will be led by the World Bank. Early reports had suggested she would take a more active fundraising role, but it was later reported that she would not be directly involved in raising funds or deciding how the money would be spent.

“This is really a stunning achievement,” Kim said Sunday, according to USA Today. “I’ve never seen anything come together so quickly, and I really have to say that Ivanka’s leadership has been tremendous.”

The donation is aimed at efforts for women in the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal reports, and the fund will support women who start businesses.

Trump first announced her plans for the fund in April, raising questions about whether it would cause conflicts of interest given her role in the White House, and drawing comparisons to the Clinton Foundation’s controversial donors. A White House official said in April that Ivanka Trump would not solicit funds or have any authority over the World Bank project, contradicting earlier reports.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump attacked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her work with the nonprofit Clinton Foundation, which raises funds for projects including entrepreneurship programs and efforts to fight HIV and AIDS.

A Trump campaign ad released in October criticized the “staggering amounts of cash pouring into the Clinton Foundation from criminals, dictators, countries that hate America.”

The foundation received contributions from both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two countries that have oppressive laws restricting women’s rights.

Saudi Arabia bans women from driving and requires them to get permission from a male guardian to travel, marry and exit prison.

Women “may be required to provide guardian consent in order to work or access healthcare,” according to the organization Human Rights Watch. “Women regularly face difficulty conducting a range of transactions without a male relative, from renting an apartment to filing legal claims.”

At Sunday’s meeting with a group of Saudi women in top professional positions, Ivanka Trump said Saudi Arabia’s progress on women’s issues has been “very encouraging” but “there’s still a lot of work to be done.” She called herself a “female leader within the Trump administration” and spoke about issues like affordable child care, the pay gap and paid family leave, according to The Washington Post.

Some Saudi activists criticized Trump and the women she met with for not doing enough to address the serious issues facing their gender.

Activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who was jailed in 2014 for driving, told the Post that her concern with meetings like the one on Sunday “is that they show these women as powerful and making an impact, making a change. But in real life, they’ve been given these opportunities by the men. They did not fight for them.”

In the U.S., Ivanka Trump has been criticized for paying lip service to issues facing women while failing to influence her father to take real action on policies like affordable child care.

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