President Donald Trump might care about Ivanka and Melania, but he doesn’t care much about women. That much is clear from his many on-record misogynistic remarks, as well as from the fact that his administration is currently doing its best to defund Planned Parenthood.
But if any more proof were needed, we need look no further than the Trump administration’s latest action – or inaction.
According to a Politico report, Trump has not yet appointed anyone to work in the White House Council on Women and Girls. By failing to fill the vacant positions, he is in effect quietly shutting down the official government body for promoting gender equality.
President Barack Obama set up the council in 2009 to review the impact of policy changes to protect gender equality. It was also responsible for liaising with women’s groups and federal agencies, with the aim of promoting gender equality in areas such as pay and healthcare.
Like many other government agencies, the women and girls’ council has been out of action since Trump took office in January. Now, three senior White House officials say that the current administration is deliberating whether to keep it at all.
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that the Trump administration “is evaluating the best positioning of this office going forward”, as well as “other legacy Obama offices”.
She also pointed to other policies as evidence that the White House is concerned with gender inequality, such as Ivanka Trump’s push for paid family leave and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education for girls.
However, former White House staff argue that it is not enough for one woman alone to be in charge of promoting gender equality.
“That’s the problem, there’s no one to reach out to except Ivanka,” said Betsy Myers, director of the Office of Women’s Initiatives and Outreach under President Bill Clinton. “If you don’t have somebody with a full-time job and a team – and the right title because that allows you to get into the right meeting – then you’re not going to be able to move the agenda forward on behalf of women.”
Watch: President Trump’s bizarre moment with a female reporter
Tina Tchen, who was director of the Council on Women and Girls under Obama, said that the government will be sending a strong message by disbanding the Council on Women and Girls: that they are not prepared to prioritise gender equality.
“It shows the priority you place on the issues surrounding women and girls,” she said.
Tchen pointed out that while Trump has not yet bothered to appoint anyone to the council for gender equality, he has found time to set up a new innovation office, headed by his son-in-law (and Ivanka’s husband) Jared Kushner.
“They have business councils, and other councils,” said Tchen. “That’s how you demonstrate to everyone in the agencies where their efforts should be focused.”
Trump has also come under fire this week for posting a video on social media that many have interpreted as promoting violence against journalists.
The clip (above), which shows a 60-year-old Trump body-slamming a man to the ground before repeatedly ‘punching’ him in the face, was taken from a 2007 appearance on WrestleMania XXIII (and yes, it really happened).
However, in the version tweeted by the president, the CNN logo has been transposed over his ‘victim’s’ head – an apparent reference to three journalists at the US cable news network who were recently forced to resign over a retracted story about a Trump associate.
Trump’s tweet has been widely condemned as encouraging his supporters to attack journalists, particularly in the wake on an incident in which a Republican politician slammed a Guardian journalist to the floor.
Sidelining gender equality, inciting violence against the press: it’s just another week in Trump’s America.
Images: Rex Features