Ivanka Trump: White House to launch women's empowerment 'umbrella initiative' in 2019

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Ivanka Trump at an event during the bank's annual meetings in 2017. Photo by: Franz Mahr / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

NEW YORK — Ivanka Trump, first daughter and adviser to the United States president, said Tuesday that the White House is planning a “major initiative” that will launch in 2019 and will consolidate efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment.

Trump described the forthcoming initiative at an event hosted by the World Bank to highlight the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Next year we’re going to be taking a lot of the work that I’ve discussed that we’ve been working on incrementally in various projects ... and launching a White House-led umbrella initiative that focuses on the economic empowerment of women for three specific pillars,” Trump said.

Those three pillars are: Vocational education and skills training, promotion of women entrepreneurs, and “eliminating barriers and creating enabling environments so that women in the developing world are able to freely and fairly participate in their local economies,” Trump said.

“We’re really excited to continue to do this work in support of, obviously, our own national security strategy, but to foster broader peace and stability,” she added.

The second pillar of the new initiative will incorporate the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative — also known as “We-Fi” and previously dubbed the “Ivanka Fund.” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim credited the American first daughter with planting the seed for that initiative at the Women 20 — or W-20 — meeting in Germany last year.

“The idea started, literally took germination in Ivanka’s mind in April, 2017,” Kim said.

“Last October we launched it, and we thought if we can get — when Ivanka and I first talked about it — maybe $50 to $100 million would be great if we can get there. We didn’t have much time. We ended up getting $350 million from 14 countries,” he said.

Kim reported that their hope was that they might be able to take that $350 million and “leverage it up” to $1 billion in private sector investment. On Tuesday, he told attendees that We-Fi has delivered its first allocation — a $120 million grant to the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the World Bank — which has in turn already leveraged $1.6 billion in additional dollars.

As We-Fi was being launched, some observers raised questions about both the inclusion of a White House official within the governance structure of a World Bank facility, as well as the transparency of the funding model that guides We-Fi’s investments. Ivanka Trump currently has no official role within the facility, though the U.S. government was a founding donor.

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.