Donald Trump touts 'empowerment' initiatives on International Women's Day

Donald Trump touts ’empowerment’ initiatives on International Women’s Day

The Trump administration commemorated International Women’s Day on Sunday by touting its year-old Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative and affirming America’s commitment to advancing women’s rights around the globe.

While several rights organizations have sharply criticized the administration, claiming some of its initiatives are subversive and particularly hostile to women’s reproductive rights, President Trump issued a statement Sunday expressing support for the advancement of “women’s economic empowerment.”

“Last year, my Administration proudly launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), the first whole-of-government effort to advance women’s economic empowerment,” the president said, asserting that the initiative’s goal is to reach “50 million women in the developing world by 2025.”

“The W-GDP Initiative recognizes that societies that empower women to participate fully in civic and economic life are more prosperous and peaceful,” Mr. Trump said.

“Across the United States and around the world, women are making important contributions to global prosperity, security, government, and innovation,” he said. “As we celebrate these remarkable achievements on International Women’s Day, we also recognize the critical role our Nation plays in advancing equal opportunity for all women so that they can reach their full potential and inspire the next generation of leaders.”

The president went on to assert that women are “playing a central role” in the U.S. “economic revival.”

“Since January of 2017,” he said, “the unemployment rate for women has reached its lowest rate in 65 years.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a similar statement Sunday, asserting that the United States is “join[ing] forces with countries around the globe striving to advance the rights, progress, and equal status of women.”

“We are finding ways to ensure women and girls have access to equal opportunities and live free from gender-based violence,” he said. “Whether increasing the involvement of women in peace and security decision-making or implementing the new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, the United States is steadfast in its commitment to women’s political, economic, and social progress.”

“We welcome the diversity and contributions of women from all walks of life and backgrounds,” Mr. Pompeo added. “Unfortunately, in far too many places women still face tremendous barriers that prevent realization of their universal rights.”

The statements come despite critics who claim the administration is pushing some initiatives designed to undercut women’s rights.

Several human rights organizations filed a lawsuit against Mr. Pompeo and the State Department Friday, according to CNN, which reported that the groups claim the administration has hostile positions toward LGBTQ and reproductive rights.

The lawsuit takes specific aim at the State Department’s establishment last year of a Commission on Unalienable Rights.

On announcing the commission in July, Mr. Pompeo said it would focus on ensuring that “human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes” around the world.

As human rights claims have “proliferated,” the secretary of state said, nations are in conflict about what constitutes a human right and which rights should be respected and treated as valid.

Some rights groups pounced on the development at the time, accusing the Trump administration of politicizing foreign policy in a way that could undermine protections for marginalized populations, including the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

Democrat senators claimed the commission would consist of members who “hold views hostile to women’s rights” and blow away existing standards and definitions.

A group of rights organizations made similar claims Friday.

According to CNN, the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization Democracy Forward filed Friday’s lawsuit in the Southern District of New York on behalf of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, the Council for Global Equality and the Global Justice Center.

The network cited a joint press release in which the organizations allege that the commission is “stacked with members who have staked out positions hostile to LGBTQ and reproductive rights” and is “holding closed door meetings to conduct significant Commission business outside of the public’s view and scrutiny, including efforts to redefine human rights terminology and commitments.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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