Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Global Women's Forum Dubai: Ivanka Trump says many Middle East women have 'half' the legal rights of men

Adviser and daughter of US President Donald Trump welcomes UAE efforts to address gender equality

Ivanka Trump. Reem Mohammed / The National
Ivanka Trump. Reem Mohammed / The National

Ivanka Trump has commended the UAE for its continuing efforts to increase opportunities for women in the workplace.

The daughter of Donald Trump and adviser to the US President, said the Emirates was setting an example to the rest of the region with its focus on gender equality.

Speaking on the opening day of the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai, Ms Trump highlighted the scale of women’s impact on the global economy.

She said a more balanced workforce in the region had the potential to add $600 billion (Dh2.203 trillion) to global annual GDP by 2025.

Too many women continue to face obstacles to entering the workforce, starting their own businesses, reaching their full potential and charting their own future

Ivanka Trump

“I would like to commend Emirati leaders for removing barriers to women joining the work force and developing a national strategy that recognises women as essential to sustainable growth,” Ms Trump said.

“Last year more than 70 per cent of university graduates in the UAE were women. It’s incredible.

“Yet only 10 per cent of the UAE’s national income is derived from women and we know that is only going to grow and flourish in the years ahead.”

Ms Trump was addressing an audience that included Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

Also present at the two-day conference were Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, and Theresa May, the former British prime minister.

In her speech, Ms Trump, an official adviser to her father, welcomed the progress the Middle East region had made in respect of women’s rights.

But while she said more remained to be done, she claimed the economic reward for overcoming remaining obstacles could be vast.

“Too many women continue to face obstacles to entering the workforce, starting their own businesses, reaching their full potential and charting their own future,” Ms Trump said.

“In the Middle East and North Africa, on average women have only half of the legal rights of men.

“In this region alone, women’s economic equality has the potential to add $600bn to global annual GDP by 2025.

“This number represents far more than an economic boom.

"It represents millions of lives full of promise, mothers who could provide for their children, daughters who could be the first to graduate high school and young women who could start businesses and become job creators.”

Ms Trump said she was proud to be surrounded by so many successful female entrepreneurs.

“Each of you has overcome immense challenges and are pioneering brighter futures for your families and your nations,” she said.

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

“Saudi Arabia has changed laws to respect women’s freedom of movement and access to credit and financial services.

“Bahrain has introduced legislation against discrimination in the workplace and Jordan removed legal restrictions which limited women’s ability to work at night.

“We all need to applaud these achievements and advancements.”

Ms Trump also spoke about the challenges women had faced in her own country.

“In the US, we have seen how much progress can be made within one lifetime,” she said.

“A few decades ago women could not take out a loan without a man or own a credit card in their own name.

“They searched for jobs in the female section of employment listings and made up only 25 per cent of managers in the 1980s.”

Now, Ms Trump said, women had become leaders in all aspects of American life.

“Last year there were more women than men in the US workforce, with women securing more than 70 per cent of new jobs,” she said.

“Women in America now represent 40 per cent of the primary breadwinners.”

Updated: February 17, 2020 10:00 AM

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