By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Ivanka Trump warned against growing 'complacent' and said much work remains to be done in the MENA region and the wider world
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were among the countries singled out for praise by Ivanka Trump for their “significant reforms” that have helped women, although she said there is “much more work to be done” in the region.
Speaking at the Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020 at Madinat Jumeirah on Sunday, Trump – the daughter of President Donald Trump and a senior advisor to the White House – said that the US government was “tremendously encouraged” by recent progress in the region, particularly in the UAE.
“I would like to commend Emirati leaders for removing barriers for women to join the workforce and developing a national strategy that recognises women as central to sustainable growth,” she said.
According to government statistics, approximately 70 percent of recent Emirati university graduates in the UAE were women.
“We know that this is going to grow and flourish in the years ahead,” she added. “Progress builds upon progress.”
Additionally, Trump singled out Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as countries that have instituted “significant reforms” over the last two years, along with Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.
“Saudi Arabia has changed laws to respect women’s freedom of movement, and access to credit and financial services,” she said, “and Bahrain has introduced legislation to prevent discrimination in the workforce."
Other reforms she highlighted included Jordan’s move to eliminate restrictions on women working at night, Morocco expanding women’s land rights and Tunisia’s introduction of laws to combat domestic violence.
Despite the positive reforms, Trump advised against growing “complacent” while work remains to be done.
“Too many women continue to face obstacles to entering the workforce, starting their own business, reaching their full potential and charting their own future,” she said. “In the Middle East and North Africa, on average, women only have half the legal rights of men.”
In her remarks, Trump said that in the Middle East region alone, women’s economic equality has the potential to add $600 billion to global annual GDP in 2025.
“This number represents far more than an economic boom,” she said. “It represents millions of lives of promise.”
Both the United States and the UAE are founding members of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initative - or We-Fi. According to Trump, the initiative has raised $2.6 billion of both public and private sector funding that invests in more than 100,000 woman-owned businesses across the developing world.