The Governmental Accountability Office audit of the program shows that it failed to fulfill its promises.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 (WEEE), put into action under the Trump administration, is often credited to Ivanka Trump and regarded as being widely successful. A new report from the Government Accountability Office reveals otherwise.
This act tasked the US Agency for International development (USAID) with utilizing a $265 million grant to assist micro, small and medium sized businesses around the world. Half of this grant was intended to go to women-owned companies. The other half was to be allocated to the “very poor”, with it being expected that there would be overlap between the two.
The WEEE, alongside Ivanka Trump’s “W-GDP”, was marketed as a means to ensure that at least part of our international aid money was going to female business owners. W-GDP, or the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Fund, was constantly at the forefront of discussion of Ivanka Trump’s work.
Media reporting about the program included many false claims and unfounded praises.
Before the program could go into effect, media outlets began to print misleading articles about it. As the WEEE was making its rounds in the House and Senate, Fortune published a piece that falsely made it seem as though Ivanka Trump had saved the USAID from budget cuts. It implied that she did this by convincing her father to help women globally by increasing the aid.
In reality, the program was only designed to use the funds that had already been put aside for it. All the act was responsible for was designating that a portion of funding must go to “Women’s Empowerment”.
Additionally, The Associated Press published a glowing review of the program before it had even launched.
Ivanka Trump’s Lies: Poor functionality within the program leaves no reliable data about its influence.
Although she did not pen the legislation, Ivanka claimed that it was her support that was responsible for getting WEEE signed into law. Further, she claimed to be the founder of W-GDP, and tweeted often about its success, even going so far as to celebrate its anniversaries abroad in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
Frequently, Ivanka Trump claimed that the W-GDP had been accessed by 12 million women, a claim that we now know was unfounded. She even tweeted that, “When women are empowered to reach their full economic potential, countries thrive and stability and peace prevail!”
The sentiment sounds hollow after reading the report about the program from the Government Accountability Office. They found that it was impossible to quantify how many women were actually funded, who received funding, and what it defined as a women-owned and controlled business.
The ineffective way in which the program functioned led the GAO to offer some insight and advice on its betterment. For instance, they suggested defining what a woman-owned business was, defining what their total funding was and offering systems to produce more reliable data about the program.
The unreliable nature of the program’s data was due to issues involving surveying those who were funded. Money was given to programs that did not report on how it was used, according to the research. Additionally, some surveys were sent to the wrong people, and in some cases, no follow-up survey was sent at all.
The Trump family legacy of not ignoring, attacking, and un-funding women’s issues.
The GAO’s report casts relief on Ivanka Trump’s claim to feminism, demonstrating that much of it was empty promises. This news will probably come as no surprise to many in women’s philanthropy circles, considering the history Ivanka Trump and the rest of her family have of working to roll back progress on women’s issues.
Even if the program had been successful, it’s important to note that the amount going to help women would have only made up about two-thirds of one percent of the foreign aid budget.