AASHNA MALPANI WRITES – Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, invited Ivanka Trump to speak about female empowerment at the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo recently.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of current U.S. President Donald Trump– a man infamous for repeated offenses and disrespectful comments against women – spoke about the need to “empower women who live in countries that prevent them from leading.” She even made it a point to single out the “womenomics” initiative as well as the paid-leave family policy, championing Minister Abe on his efforts to propel women into the workplace.

Although the Trump father-daughter duo’s arrival to Japan had a been a much-anticipated event covered at large by national and international media, Ivanka Trump delivered her empowerment address to a mostly empty room. The numbers were so low, security officials had to usher the crowd forward several seats while Trump made her way to the stage.

Officials from both parties, the White House as well as Japan’s Foreign Ministry, claimed that rows were empty because enough people were unable to enter the room in time because of security reasons.

Kyoko Hokugo, director of the gender mainstreaming division at Japan’s Foreign Ministry, told The New York Times “it was unfortunate that there were several people who could not enter the room during the speeches of Prime Minister Abe and Ms. Ivanka Trump. We needed to shut the door during their speeches for our security reasons.”

Regardless of what Trump said and how many people were there to hear it, her speech has raised some skeptical brows. Nancy Snow, a diplomacy professor at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, told The Irish Times: “What is Ivanka Trump going to be to Japan more than a celebrity figure? Is she really going to up the ante here or move the needle? It’s sort of window dressing and making Japan maybe feel better about itself…”

Snow’s comments are reflected in The Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum. The 2017 data rank Japan 123 in terms of political empowerment, and 114 on the global index as well as economic participation and opportunity.

Five years ago, when Mr. Abe was elected Prime Minister, he had promised to incorporate more women into the working economy. Although he maintains that 1.5 million females are now working women, we must acknowledge that more than half of that number works part-time jobs that don not have proper benefits or opportunities to climb the professional ladder.

Trump failed to mention any of this data during her speech.

Trump also failed to answer questions from the audience, address allegations regarding the ill-treatment of workers in Chinese and Indonesian factories that produce her goods, or talk about how the White House dismissed every allegation of sexual assault against Donald Trump, citing the women as liars.

At the start of the assembly, Prime Minister Abe promised a $50 million contribution to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, a platform that lends money to budding female entrepreneurs. The idea was introduced by Ivanka Trump at the G20 summit at Hamburg, Germany in July.


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