Ivanka Trump brushed aside groans and hisses yesterday over her father’s track record and defended his attitudes toward women as she made her first international outing as a White House adviser.
Ms Trump pledged to push for “incremental, positive change” for women in the US economy and told a Berlin conference on women that she is still “rather unfamiliar” with her role as first daughter and adviser to president Donald Trump.
The scattered groans and hisses came as she described her father as “a tremendous champion of supporting families”.
Trump’s one-day visit, at the invitation of German chancellor Angela Merkel, gave Ms Merkel and other officials face-to-face access with the president’s influential daughter at a time when world leaders are still trying to discern where his policies will lead.
Ms Merkel and Ms Trump were part of a high-powered panel discussion yesterday at the W20 Summit, a women-focused effort within the Group of 20 countries, entitled “Inspiring women: Scaling up women’s entrepreneurship.” They were joined by Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and the Netherlands’ Queen Maxima, among others.
The 35-year-old Ms Trump, who stepped away from both running her fashion brand and from an executive role at the Trump Organisation to become an unpaid White House adviser, said she is still finding her feet in her new role.
“I’m listening, I’m learning, I’m defining the ways in which I think that I’ll be able to have impact” in empowering women in the US economy and beyond, she said.
She added she plans “to bring the advice, to bring the knowledge, back to the United States, back to both my father and the president – and hopefully that will bring about incremental, positive change. And that is my goal”.
Ms Trump has been a vocal advocate for policies benefiting working women and vocational training. During Ms Merkel’s visit to Washington in March, she organised a discussion with the German leader, her father, and American and German executives about how companies can better train workers.
However, Ms Trump has faced a backlash in the United States, particularly from liberals who think she has done little to temper her father’s conservative agenda. Since the president took office in January, liberal groups have questioned the impact of his policy moves on families.
Yesterday, Berlin moderator Miriam Meckel brought Ms Trump into the discussion with a pointed question about her White House role.
“As a part of the audience, especially the German audience, is not that familiar with the concept of the ‘first daughter’ I’d like to ask you: what is your role and who are you representing - your father as the president of the United States, the American people or your business?” she asked.
The question drew a quick response from Ms Trump.
“Certainly not the latter. And I am rather unfamiliar with this role as well, as it is quite new to me,” Ms Trump responded. She added that “it has been a little under 100 days but it has just been a remarkable, incredible journey.”
Ms Meckel intervened again after Ms Trump described the president as “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive,” noting some reactions from the audience.
“Some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empowerer for women,” said the moderator, who is the editor of a German business magazine and a professor of corporate communications at St Gallen University in Switzerland.