When in Rome do as the Romans do? That old adage apparently doesn’t sit well for Ivanka Trump in the country she is visiting today. Ivanka found herself addressing a group of Saudi women about the treatment they endure in their country, which is a country run by men.
Donald Trump honed in on annihilating the world of terrorists and advocated for countries to band together to fight the terrorism in the world today. He did this at a Sunday morning conference in Saudi Arabia. Along with Melania, Ivanka and Ivanka’s husband in attendance, Trump had 50 Muslim leaders as his audience.
Ivanka, who was in the audience supporting her father as he made this major speech, wasn’t along on this trip just to be a supporting figure. Her agenda is attempting to help the women of Saudi Arabia find a way to empower themselves in a land where women still don’t drive a car. While she praised the progress that’s been made in Saudi Arabia in recent years regarding women’s rights, she also said they still had a lot of work to do, according to The Hill.
It is not as if Ivanka held a captive audience of random women from off the streets, she met with women who are considered local leaders and who represent the first women-only public university in Saudi Arabia. She wasn’t peddling her goals to women who didn’t want to hear it, these women are active in the movement to have Saudi Arabia recognize women as equals to the men in that country.
Unlike the good old USA, this Saudi meeting of the women was not without some male authority interjected into the mix. Two women reporters were only allowed to stay for the introduction of this meeting and then they had to leave, according to the Washington Post.
According to The Hill, the meeting focused on a “discussion of the segregation of women in Saudi Arabia, the ban on women driving and guardianship laws.” Women are not allowed to leave their home in Saudi Arabia without permission from a male relative. That would be their husband if they are married, but if not married their closest living male relative takes on the role of guardianship, like their father, brother, uncle or cousin.
Women do not have the rights of their male counterparts in this country. Men are actually in charge of their female relatives lives. Men are in the role of a guardian over the women in their family and the women abide by the men’s decisions on their life choices. They cannot make a major decision like going to college without the permission of a male guardian.
A woman could not travel unless she got permission from a male relative to do so. They can’t go on a trip or even to a movie without that male relative’s permission. The ban on women driving seems so archaic in today’s world, but the women in Saudi Arabia abide by these laws, which are religion-based and not part of the laws of the government.
The women in this country are required to cover themselves up in clothing from head to toe. A lot of the buzz this week ahead of this trip was about Melania Trump and if she would wear a headscarf during her Saudi visit. She didn’t, and neither did Ivanka. The people back at home applauded the Trump women for going into this country while staying true to the American culture. This is not the first time a first lady of the U.S. opted to not don a headscarf while in Saudi Arabia. Michelle Obama did not wear a headscarf when she visited Saudi Arabia as the previous first lady of the nation.
Ivanka’s work appeared to have paid off as during the Sunday conference that Donald Trump attended, the president of the World Bank “announced that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had together pledged $100 million to a foundation for women entrepreneurs that was first proposed by Ivanka Trump,” according to The Hill.
Ivanka taking on the issue of women’s rights while in a country that gives very little rights to women, was a bold and brave move on her part. This move certainly paid off for the women of Saudi Arabia, which was evident with the $100 million pledge for a women’s foundation.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]