This weekend, The World Bank announced Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates will donate a combined $100 million to a fund conceived by Ivanka Trump, which will support women entrepreneurs worldwide.
Critics — particularly some former Hillary Clinton supporters — are crying foul. The donations are being made by countries ranked 109th and 141st out of 144 on the Global Gender Gap Index, with Saudi Arabia infamous for its ban on women driving and requiring women in public to have a male chaperone at all times. Detractors further point to Trump’s criticism of the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from Saudi Arabia last June, when he complained “Saudi Arabia … want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!”
But there are significant differences between the two initiatives. The Clinton Foundation is run by the Clinton family. The Women Entrepreneurs Fund, which is still in the developmental stage, will be controlled by the World Bank, not Ivanka Trump. Although she will remain the face of the project, the first daughter will not be involved in the fund’s management or solicit funds, according to White House officials. Despite these measures taken, suspicions of pay-for-play remain.
In spite of the outcry, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was elated to announce the massive donations over the weekend. “This is really a stunning achievement,” said Kim on Sunday. “I’ve never seen anything come together so quickly, and I really have to say that Ivanka’s leadership has been tremendous.”
Steven Davidson is an editorial fellow at The Forward.