In a sunlit ballroom Sunday morning at the Tuwaiq Palace in Saudi Arabia, Ivanka Trump’s proposed Women Entrepreneurs Fund — a concept she first shared during her own inaugural international trip as first daughter last month to Berlin, Germany — was promised a combined $100 million by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates specifically to help women in the Middle East.
The fund, which will be run by World Bank, not Ivanka Trump, aims to provide to female entrepreneurs with financial support in the form of capital and access to networking and financial markets, something Trump says she anticipates will be important to the future growth of women.
But Saudi Arabia places severe restrictions on women’s rights and participation in society, including prohibitions on driving and finances. The creation of a fund that solicits donations from such countries and is championed by Trump’s daughter, one of Trump’s closest advisers, could open the President up to charges of hypocrisy, saying that the concept is not dissimilar to the Clinton Foundation, which he roundly criticized as a candidate.
The first daughter spoke of the need for transformation at Sunday’s women’s economic empowerment roundtable, which was attended by 15 women, most of them Saudi business and government leaders and entrepreneurs.
“We are living in a pivotal moment in history for women,” she said. “Around the world, women continue to achieve unprecedented levels of rights and freedoms. Today, you all stand on the front lines of the fight for gender equality. You recognize the indisputable truth that empowering women is key to driving economic transformation.”