Obama created the council in 2009 with an executive order that coordinated a “federal response to issues that particularly impact the lives of women and girls and to ensure that federal programs and policies address and take into account the distinctive concerns of women and girls, including women of color and those with disabilities.”
But as Politico writes, the council has gone dark since Trump was inaugurated, and according to White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks, the White House is seeking the “input of the various agencies to understand the assets they have so that we make this office additive, not redundant.”
Hicks also pointed out that Ivanka Trump has been an advocate for gender equality, pushing for paid family leave and education opportunities for females. Last Monday, though, the president’s daughter said she’s trying to stay out of politics.
Donald Trump has had an exceptionally poor week when it comes to gender issues, attacking Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski, tweeting that when she and Joe Scarborough met with him at the Mar-a-Lago resort six months ago she “was bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
That tweet drew widespread condemnation from Democratic and Republican politicians, and it only added to Trump’s previous attacks on women. That includes saying Megyn Kelly had blood “coming out of her… wherever” when she pointedly questioned him during a Republican primary debate, calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” during a presidential debate, and bragging about committing sexual assault.
The decision to potentially shutter the Council on Women and Girls only will further bolster Trump’s critics that believe he simply doesn’t care about gender equality.
“[The Trump administration has] business councils, and other councils,” Tina Tchen, the former director of the Council, told Politico. “That’s how you demonstrate to everyone in the agencies where their efforts should be focused.”
As Politico notes, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said in February that she planned to oversee the Council, and two months later, Ivanka Trump was supposed to help review everything that fell under the Council’s scope. But nothing has been announced since.
Considering she doesn’t even know who to contact in the White House about gender issues, Terry O’Neill—president of the National Organization for Women—doesn’t seem surprised.
“I see no evidence, zero, that Donald Trump has anyone in his orbit to advocate for women and girls,” O’Neill told Politico. “We need a real office that would really advocate … I actually don’t know anyone who has been in touch with the White House.”