Donald Trump’s wife and daughter on Sunday praised Saudi Arabia’s progress in empowering women.
“Saudi Arabia’s progress, especially in recent years, is very encouraging,” Mr Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, told a group of Saudi women in Riyadh, where the US president was making his first foreign visit since taking office in January.
“But there’s still a lot of work to be done and freedoms and opportunities to continue to fight for,” she said at a roundtable led by Princess Reema bint Bandar, deputy president of the Women’s Sports Authority.
First lady Melania Trump also praised the advances being made by Saudi women during a visit to a General Electric all-female service centre in Riyadh.
Speaking to the 200 female employees about her roles as first lady and a mother, she said it was about “finding the balance”.
Saudi Arabia’s conservative society imposes several restrictions on women in public life, including preventing them from driving. However, a series of reforms under the late King Abdullah and his successor, King Salman, have seen a gradual easing of these limits. A royal decree earlier this month reportedly stipulated that women were no longer required to obtain a male guardian’s consent to carry out certain activities.
In February, a woman was appointed to head the Saudi stock exchange, Tadawul, while another was appointed as head of the major bank Samba.
“The stories of Saudi women, such as yourselves, catalysing change, inspire me to believe in the possibility of global women’s empowerment,” said Ivanka.