First daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump traveled to Berlin to attend the W20 Women’s Summit Tuesday at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and was met with tough questions and a rough reception from the all-women audience.
Miriam Meckel, the panel moderator and editor-in-chief of WirtschaftsWoche, opened up by grilling Trump on her dual role as first family member and formal adviser to the president. “You’re the first daughter of the United States. And you’re also an assistant to the president. The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing: Your father as President of the United States, the American people, or your business?”
“Certainly not the latter,” Trump, seated alongside IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and one seat away from Merkel, replied. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well … It has been a little under 100 days and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”
When the discussion turned to her father’s attitudes toward paid family leave and empowering women in the workplace, Trump said her father’s record as a businessman demonstrates that he’s worked to advance women in the workplace. And she discussed his administration’s proposal for paid family leave, the first ever put forth by a Republican presidential nominee, as evidence that such ideas are part his administration’s policies.
“I’m very proud of my father’s advocacy,” Trump said, adding that he is “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”
But that’s precisely when the audience began taking issue with Trump’s response, and they let her hear it with a round of boos and hisses.
“You hear the reaction from the audience, so I need to address one more point,” Meckel said. “Some attitudes towards women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empowerer for women. How do you relate to that? Are things changing?”
The question seemed to vaguely reference the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump can be heard boasting about grabbing women “by the pussy.” But Trump sidestepped and pointed to her father’s business record again, saying, “The thousands of women who have worked with and for my father, for decades, when he was in the private sector, are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women and their ability to do the job as well as any man.” She went on to speak about her personal experience and the way she was raised to approach life without thinking about limits gender might place on her.
Watch a clip of the exchange below. The boos and hisses are hard to pick up on the video, but numerous journalists in the room reported the same occurrence.
At one point in the discussion, Meckel asked the panelists to raise their hands if they are feminists. Trump’s hand noticeably went up, and later she confirmed that she does consider herself a feminist, adding, “I think of that as believing in the social, political and economic equality for all genders,” CNN reported. “I think even this discussion on feminism and why it’s become so loaded is that I think there can be a negativity attached to labeling because it does feel exclusionary of others,” Trump continued. “And so it’s very interesting to hear the chancellor’s perspective on that and I do think there’s obligation upon us and upon all women to support and to hold each other up and to be inclusive.” Watch the complete panel here.
The trip to Berlin for the Summit is Trump’s first official trip abroad in her dual role as first family member and White House adviser and, therefore, drew international attention from the media. As a precursor to her arrival in Germany for the event, Trump co-authored an Op-Ed in The Financial Times (subscription needed) with World Bank president Jim Kim that addressed the economic empowerment of women.
“We need to increase access to finance, redistribute care work, accelerate progress to financial inclusion, and offer programs that train female entrepreneurs and help them access higher value markets,” Trump and Kim wrote in the piece. “We need to develop new legal and regulatory frameworks to boost women’s growth and productivity. The right skills training enhances women’s capacity to manage their businesses. And mentorship opportunities and access to networks bring learning opportunities and connections to capital and markets.”