Ivanka Trump lauds progress in UAE, Saudi Arabia on women's rights

She delivered keynote address at Global Women’s Forum in Dubai.
Sunday 16/02/2020
Saudi women wearing special protective glasses monitor the annular solar eclipse on Jabal Arba (Four Mountains) in Hofuf, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, December 26, 2019. (Reuters)
Saudi women wearing special protective glasses monitor the annular solar eclipse on Jabal Arba (Four Mountains) in Hofuf, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, December 26, 2019. (Reuters)

Ivanka Trump said Sunday Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are to be lauded for embarking on “significant reforms” to advance women's rights. 

The daughter of US President Donald Trump delivered the keynote address at the two-day Global Women’s Forum held in Dubai.

“We know that when women are free to succeed, families thrive, communities flourish and nations are stronger,” Trump said.

The theme of the forum in Dubai was “The Power of Influence.” 

Ivanka Trump has spearheaded initiatives that broadly back women's empowerment. 

In her speech at Sunday's forum, Trump lauded Emirati leaders for “removing barriers to women joining the workforce and developing a national strategy that recognizes that women are central to sustainable growth.”

Ivanka Trump 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 pointed to changes in other Mideast countries, as well. 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 audience for her speech in the UAE included Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, World Bank President David Malpass and International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva.

The Dubai ruler is very popular at home and is seen as a modernizing force. 


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.


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.

(AP)