As President Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, a trending topic on Twitter was #binttrump, Arabic for “Trump’s daughter,” meaning Ivanka.
“Usually in Saudi, when we like somebody, especially in the hierarchy of the royals, we call them Abu,” or father of, businessman Ahmed Ibrahim told the L.A. Times. “With President Trump, when we want to mention how great he is, we say ‘Abu Ivanka,’ we don’t say ‘Abu Eric.’ She’s amazing."
To Saudi women, the first daughter is an aspirational figure as a traditional wife and mother and as a key member of a family business. That latter trait is especially important since familial support—mainly from their fathers—is still the only real way for Saudi women to succeed professionally.
Yet Saudi women can only relate to Ivanka Trump to a point. The first daughter possesses freedoms—such as the right to drive and to travel independently—that are still off-limits to them.
Saudi Arabia has made small changes to its male guardianship system, but women are still required to get approval from a male relative to travel abroad, to get a passport, and to marry.
Ivanka Trump seemed to acknowledge those restrictions at a roundtable meeting for women in Saudi Arabia yesterday that was hosted by Princess Reema bint Bandar, head of the women’s section of the General Authority of Sports.
"You stand on the front lines in the fight for gender equality," Trump told the women gathered at the discussion. "Saudi Arabia’s progress is encouraging, but there is still work to be done—and freedoms and opportunities to continue to fight for."
Diplomatic dress code
When President Trump touched down Saturday in Saudi Arabia, Melania and Ivanka Trump eschewed covering their heads. The move—which follows the lead of Angela Merkel and Theresa May who also shunned head coverings on recent visits—is especially notable since President Trump criticized former First Lady Michelle Obama's decision to forego a headscarf in 2015, tweeting at the time that the U.S. already had "enuf enemies."
Controversy in Cannes
Israel’s far-right culture minister, Miri Regev, used the red carpet of the Cannes film festival to make an explicit political statement. Her gown featured the Jerusalem skyline, which she says celebrated "50 years since the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem." Israel claims sovereignty over all of the city, but some members of the international community regard the east of Jerusalem as being under Israeli occupation. Online commenters photoshopped Regev's dress to reflect their own political views.
Drawing a line
In 2013, Mario Borghezio, of Italy's anti-immigration Northern League, accused Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first black national minister, of wanting to “impose her tribal traditions from the Congo” on Italians. Four years later, Borghezio has been found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay Kyenge $55,670 in damages. "I don’t see this as a personal victory but as a strong response against racial hatred which poisons society," Kyenge says. "The sentence marks a line that can’t be crossed.”
The arrival of paid leave?
The U.S. could get its first paid family leave benefit under the budget proposal the Trump administration will release on Tuesday. It will reportedly seek funds for the creation of a program to give new parents six weeks of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Trump's proposal for paid leave is a radical departure from traditional Republican orthodoxy, but could also get pushback from Democrats (who have long championed a federal policy) because of its limited scope.
Counseling from the clergy
Prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S., an unlikely group counseled American women with unwanted pregnancies and sometimes helped them find abortion providers: members of the clergy. Some of them gathered in New York this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of their efforts. Barbara Gerlach, a minister in the United Church of Christ, says "there was so much stigma and shame and secrecy attached [to abortion]" that talking to a religious leader "gave dignity to the women who were coming for counseling."
The Wright stuff
Actress Robin Wright talked to The Guardian about her portrayal of powerful, ruthless women in House of Cards and the upcoming Wonder Woman film. She also discussed her experience stepping behind the camera to direct several episodes of the Netflix show: "I think you do just give yourself permission to go: ‘You can do this.’ And you know what? If I don’t know the answer to something...I’m going to say: ‘Can I get your help?'"
Sent to Singapore
The White House confirmed long-rumored reports on Friday by nominating K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, as ambassador to Singapore. McFarland is a somewhat controversial figure since she was hired as deputy by embattled former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Plus, a Politico story last week reported an incident in which McFarland supplied the president with fake news. Her ambassadorship requires Senate confirmation.
Japan's opposition leader Rehno (who goes by a single name) is seeking to diminish PM Shinzo Abe's popularity by blasting his efforts to boost women's economic power. One of his aims is to eliminate waiting lists for childcare, but on that front he's largely failed. “About 80% of those who take childcare leave are women, and if they’re forced to wait for daycare, that means unemployment,” Renho said. “You either get demoted or you give up on work. What’s womenomics about if women are being forced to make such sad choices?”
On the Hill for help
The wives of Chinese activists are fighting back following the arrests of their husbands in China’s crackdown on outspoken rights lawyers and advocates. The women testified before a congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C., last week, urging the Trump administration to press the communist government to free detainees and end the use of torture. "They can treat you like hand-pulled noodles, squeeze you into any shape,” said Wang Qiaoling, the wife of a detained lawyer. “If you’re isolated and scared, it’s hard to resist.”
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—Godiya Joshua, whose daughter Esther was among the 82 Chibok schoolgirls freed by Boko Haram.