Silent on the Exploitation That Fuels Her Luxury Brand, Ivanka Trump's Speech on Women's Empowerment Denounced as "Hollow"

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Silent on the Exploitation That Fuels Her Luxury Brand, Ivanka Trump's Speech on Women's Empowerment Denounced as "Hollow"

"Another international trip, another empty, platitude-filled speech from Ivanka Trump."

Another international trip, another empty, platitude-filled speech from Ivanka Trump," said Public Citizen's Robert Weissman in response to the First Daughter's speech in India on Tuesday. (Photo: AP/Manish Swarup)

A talk delivered Tuesday by Ivanka Trump in India on Tuesday was decried as nothing but her latest "empty, platitude-filled speech" by critics who argue the U.S. president's daughter has no business talking about female empowerment and economic development when her business ventures have longed exploited low-wage workers, mostly women, to make the clothing and merchandise that bear her name.

As several media outlets noted, Ms. Trump—also installed by her father to serve as a White House advisor—failed in her speech to mention her penchant for exploiting cheap labor to manufacture the purses, shoes, and other luxury items that are sold in high-end stores across the world. As the Washington Post reports, citing industry experts, "Trump's apparel company, which she still controls, exclusively relies on foreign factories in places such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, China and India, where mostly female workers are paid a few dollars a day for long hours."

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen said everything about the trip, her #WomenWhoWork campaign, and her latest remarks in India should "ring hollow" in the context of her record on labor issues.

"Another international trip, another empty, platitude-filled speech from Ivanka Trump," said Weissman in a statement. "While encouraging women to pursue entrepreneurship is certainly a valid goal, the actions of Ivanka Trump’s clothing company betray the words of the company’s namesake. Ivanka Trump has failed to address the brutal reality exposed by human rights activists and news organizations: The clothes and shoes produced by her brand’s suppliers, which outsource all their production overseas, are often manufactured under abusive conditions."

Earlier this month, nearly a dozen labor rights groups—including Public Citizen, the International Labor Rights Forum, and China Labor Watch—put out a video exposing Trump's troubling legacy in the fashion industry and her hypocrisy on women's issues:

"Women workers in China who manufactured products for the Ivanka Trump brand have yet to receive their full legal wages," said Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, on Tuesday. "Ivanka has the responsibility to find these workers and ensure they are paid in full. Ivanka's profits include the wages of these workers."

And as Weissman points out, labor rights investigators in the countries where Ivanka's clothes are made still face the threat of prosecution for investigating conditions for workers. "News reports say the company supply chain has only grown murkier since Ivanka Trump joined her father’s administration," he said. "Ivanka’s commentary on the #WomenWhoWork campaign will remain worse than empty bromides so long as she fails to rectify the human rights abuses connected to her own company."

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