April 14, 2019
Ivanka Trump, center, walks through a terminal of Dulles International Airport, in Sterling, Va., Saturday, April 13, 2019, to board a flight to Ethiopia. (JACQUELYN MARTIN / AP PHOTO)
By CATHERINE LUCEY, The Associated Press
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Leaving behind the White House battles over border walls and tax returns, Ivanka Trump is visiting Ethiopia and Ivory Coast in pursuit of a very different goal — advancing a global women’s program she hopes will outlast an administration better known for “America First” isolationism.
The president’s daughter and senior adviser arrived in Africa on Sunday, opening a four-day swing to advocate for an initiative that aims to boost 50 million women in developing countries by 2025. Her plans include visiting with women working in the coffee industry and touring a female-run textile facility, as well as meeting with dignitaries and appearing at a World Bank policy summit.
But even thousands of miles from Washington, Trump is sure to be shadowed by her father’s efforts to cut international aid, as well as his past disparaging comments about the continent. While she has drawn praise for taking on this project — and for making this trip — the contrast between her priorities and those of many others in the White House was evident.
On the continent, reactions to the visit reflected the contradictions of her role.
Activist Marakie Tesfaye, who founded a group in Ethiopia for women, welcomed the attention, saying: “I think she’s coming genuinely to empower women and it’s good that she’s coming because she will push forward our agenda.”
Ethiopian journalist Sisay Woubshet was more skeptical, citing President Donald Trump’s past comments and adding: “I don’t think people will have a good feeling about his daughter’s visit this time around to promote her global initiative towards women.”
For Ivanka Trump, those challenges come with the territory.
She has spent two years promoting a family-friendly agenda in an administration focused on hardline immigration tactics and protectionist trade policies. To questions about international aid spending, she has previously said the administration strives to be generous in a “fiscally responsible way,” and has argued that investing in her project — which builds on previous White House efforts — is a way to promote security in developing countries.
During her travels, Ivanka Trump will be accompanied by Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The textile facility they are to visit got started with funding from USAID and Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which provides loans, loan guarantees and political risk insurance, funding projects that stretch across continents and industries.
While in Ethiopia, they will be joined by OPIC Acting President David Bohigian. OPIC is set to announce a new initiative in Africa.