BERLIN (AP) — Ivanka Trump pledged to push for “incremental, positive change” for women in the U.S. economy and defended her father’s attitudes toward women as she made her first international outing Tuesday as a White House adviser.
Trump told an audience at a conference on women in Berlin that she’s still “rather unfamiliar” with her role as first daughter and adviser. But she drew scattered groans and hisses for describing President Donald Trump as “a tremendous champion of supporting families.”
Trump’s one-day visit, at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, gave 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.
Merkel and Trump were part of a high-powered panel discussion Tuesday 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 Trump, who stepped away from running her fashion brand 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 U.S. economy and beyond, she said.
She said says 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.”
Trump has been a vocal advocate for policies benefiting working women and vocational training. During Merkel’s March visit to Washington, she organized a discussion with the German leader, her father, and American and German executives about how companies can better train workers.
On Tuesday, moderator Miriam Meckel brought 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 Trump.
“Certainly not the latter. And I am rather unfamiliar with this role as well, as it is quite new to me,” Trump responded. She added that “it has been a little under 100 days but it has just been a remarkable, incredible journey.”
Meckel intervened again after Trump described the president as “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive,” noting some groans 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, the editor of a German business magazine and also a professor of corporate communications at St. Gallen University in Switzerland.
“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that’s been perpetuated,” Trump replied.
But Trump added that her own personal experience and the fact that thousands of women worked with and for Donald Trump for decades in the private sector “are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women and their ability to do the job as well as any man.”
“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.”
There was, she stressed, “no difference between me and my brothers. And I think as a business leader you saw that, and as a president you will absolutely see that.”
President Trump tweeted Tuesday that he is “proud of (at)IvankaTrump for her leadership on these important issues.”
While in Berlin, Trump was also visiting a technology college run by the Siemens company and the German capital’s memorial to the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. She converted to Judaism herself ahead of her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner.
She has not yet offered specific legislation or publicly revealed how she plans to move forward with the child care and family leave policies she promoted during her father’s campaign. But a senior U.S. administration official says she and others have been working quietly behind the scenes to revise her campaign proposals and to build momentum.
The official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal policy talks, stressed that child care is a part of the White House tax policy conversation. The president is set to roll out tax reform priorities Wednesday, but the official declined to discuss those plans in advance.
Catherine Lucey contributed to this report from Washington and Geir Moulson from Berlin.