President Trump’s daughter Ivanka said Sunday that ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has made ‘encouraging’ progress in empowering women but more freedom is needed.
‘Saudi Arabia’s progress, especially in recent years, is very encouraging,’ Trump’s eldest daughter told a group of Saudi women she met in Riyadh while accompanying her father on a visit to the Muslim kingdom.
‘But there’s still a lot of work to be done and freedoms and opportunities to continue to fight for,’ added Ivanka, who serves as an advisor to her father.
‘Around the world women continue to achieve unprecedented levels of rights and freedoms. Today you all stand on the frontlines of the fight for gender equality,’ she told a roundtable of women led by Princess Reema bint Bandar, deputy president of the Women’s Sports Authority.
Princess Reema said she had previously met Ivanka Trump because they both ‘had life in retail.’
‘That life in retail took us through to various journeys and exposed us actually to what other women’s experiences in the workplace are,’ the princess said. ‘From that, in the application of her experience and knowledge there, she’s gone to really be an advocate for women.’
‘And today we both find ourselves quite interestingly in governmental positions where we hope to make a difference for the future of women not just of our countries but around the world,’ Reema added.
Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict form of Sunni Islam, imposes many restrictions on women.
It is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.
When in public, women in Saudi Arabia are expected to cover from head to toe.
Riyadh has pledged a program of social and economic reforms as part of the ambitious ‘Vision 2030’ strategy launched last year.
A royal decree earlier this month reportedly stipulated that women are no longer required to obtain a male guardian’s consent to carry out certain activities.
In Febraury, a Saudi woman was appointed to head the Saudi stock exchange, Tadawul, while another was appointed as head of the major bank Samba.
‘The stories of Saudi women, such as yourselves, catalysing change, inspire me to believe in the possibility of global women’s empowerment,’ said Ivanka.