Strange bedfellows

Ivanka Trump gets mixed reception in Ethiopia while promoting women’s empowerment

White House Advisor Ivanka Trump attends a meeting with women from the coffee industry during her visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on April 14, 2019. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

Ivanka Trump arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday to promote a White House global economic program aimed at empowering women in developing countries with job training, financial support, and legal reforms to remove barriers to women’s participation in the workforce. Kicking off a four-day trip through the country and the Ivory Coast, Trump took part in a traditional coffee ceremony and visited weavers in the capital city Addis Ababa.

“Investing in women is smart development policy and it’s smart business,” said Trump while sitting with women workers at Dumerso Coffee. “It’s also in our security interest, because women, when we’re empowered, foster peace and stability.”

During her appearance at Dumerso, she announced that USAID would back a loan from a women-focused bank for a women-owned coffee business. Later, while visiting a textile and craft manufacturing company, the first daughter also announced new funding from the Overseas Private Investment Corp., an international loan-provider that last year announced they would work with Trump on projects aimed at empowering women.

Trump’s visit reportedly brought a mixed reaction from locals, as activists simultaneously hailed the influx of capital and support for women’s businesses brought by the trip while expressing frustration with President Trump’s past derogatory comments about people on the African continent — including referring to African nations as “shithole countries.”

According to Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, the White House’s goal of reforming laws that block women from working had the potential to make positive change. But the Trump administration’s decision to defund any group that provides — or even advocates for — abortion services, he noted, was undermining efforts to support women’s empowerment.

“I think one of the most powerful tools for women’s economic empowerment is the ability to choose when and how many children they have,” Kenny told CBS News.

Read the full story at CBS News.

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