GERMANY — Ivanka Trump defended her father at a women’s panel in Berlin Tuesday after attendees hissed and booed when she attempted to champion her father’s commitment to women’s issues.
The event opened with the first daughter explaining her role in the White House.
“You are first daughter — German audience not familiar — what is your role — to whom are you represented? Your father, the American people, or your business,” asked Miriam Meckel, editor of German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche.
“Well, certainly not the latter, and I am rather unfamiliar with this role as well, as it is quite new to me,” replied Trump, a top adviser to her father. “It has been a little under 100 days, but it is just been a remarkable, an incredible journey.”
“So it’s very early for me. I’m listening, I’m learning, I’m defining the ways in which I think I’ll be able to have impact,” she added.
The audience interrupted Trump with hissing and boos during a discussion on paid leave when she began describing her father as an advocate for women.
“That is something I’m very proud of my father’s advocacy, long before he came into the presidency, he championed this in the primaries. He’s been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive,” Trump said before the crowd began reacting negatively.
Meckel asked Trump to respond to those who question if the president is an “empowerer of women” given his past controversial statements.
“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media and that’s been perpetuated, but I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was 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,” she said.
“So I think in my personal experience — and you were asking me about my role as daughter — and as adviser, as a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level knowing that he encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” Trump added.
Trump also embraced the title of feminist while criticizing the movement for not being inclusive enough.
“I do label myself a feminist and I think about that in very broad terms,” she said. “I think of that as believing in the social, political and economic equality for all genders.”
“But I do think that there is a feeling of exclusion for a lot of women, if they deviate in one small way and one small area, and I think one of the things that we have to do is we have to come together, we have to have discussions such as this one where we can respectfully disagree with one another,” she added.
Trump encouraged spending time embracing dissenting opinions and seeking to understand why so many people feel uncomfortable with the feminist label.
“I think even this discussion on feminism and why it’s become so loaded is that I think there can be a negativity attached to labeling because it does feel exclusionary of others,” she said. “And so it’s very interesting to hear the Chancellor’s perspective on that and I do think there’s obligation upon us and upon all women to support and to hold each other up and to be inclusive.”
Trump was participating in a panel discussion on women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship at the W-20, a summit of G-20 countries aimed at promoting women’s workforce participation and equality. She was one of eight participants, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Queen Màxima of the Netherlands, and International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde.
Asked later about the booing, Trump told reporters “politics is politics” and emphasized her comments about the need to engage in dialog.
“I’m used to it, it’s fine,” she said. “I think, you know, for me and I sort of said it at the end, I think what’s so important is we have to be able to engage in dialog with one another and we have to be able to have different viewpoints and feel comfortable candidly expressing ourselves without fear of being labeled and ostracized. And I think that’s how progress is made.”
Invited by Merkel
Merkel personally invited Trump on her first international trip since her father assumed office to discuss business, foreign policy and other issues of importance between the U.S. and Germany.
Trump’s trip is one of the top news stories in Berlin, her face splashed across multiple front pages.
“First Flüsterin” was daily newspaper Berliner Zeitung’s Monday headline. Translation: “First Whisperer.”
“Ivanka Trump is the most favored child of the U.S. president. She is his most important whisperer. Will she put her father on a moderate course, as many hope? Or will she be a loyal accomplice?” a translation of the article said.
Her appearance in Berlin has drawn substantial interest from the media. The W-20 organizers approved more than 400 press credentials for the event — most will be seated in a separate room during the panel itself.
The President spoke with Merkel by phone on the eve of his daughter’s visit, his fourth call since their March meeting and their fifth call together since he took office in January, further cementing her status as one of his most important allies and perhaps signaling that they are working on their relationship.
Ivanka Trump first became close with Merkel during that initial March White House visit. They were seated together at a vocational education and workforce development panel. German officials soon asked Ivanka Trump to help organize a meeting between American and German business leaders on vocational training.
Speaking at an April panel, Trump praised German apprenticeship programs, saying, “The Germans have really led the way.”