You’d hope that something as straightforward as International Women’s Day wouldn’t be an opportunity to see how far we’ve fallen with the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president — but here we are. Former President Barack Obama showed him up this Friday with a public statement in honor of the occasion that walked through his take on the day.
‘On International Women’s Day, I’m reflecting on the future we all want for our daughters: one where they can live out their aspirations without limits. And I’m celebrating some of the women who are building that future for all of us today.’
He cited three such women, all of whom are associated with the Obama Foundation in some capacity. The former commander-in-chief and longtime people’s advocate named Change.org Foundation President Preethi Herman, refugee assistance organization SINGA’s co-founder Alice Barbe, and women’s advocacy organization SEPHIS’s President Sefora Kodjo. Together, those three women represent progressive work from across the globe — Herman is Indian, Barbe works in France, and Kodjo is from the African nation of Cote d’Ivoire.
Kodjo has been associated with Obama’s work since at least 2015, when she participated in the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) -Mandela Washington Fellowship, which constituted her studying “civic leadership” at Wagner College in New York for six weeks. She has led projects like a “National Caravan for Women’s Empowerment” in her home country, which “trained over 1,600 young women on women’s rights issues and combatting gender-based violence in seven cities across the country,” according to info collected by the State Department.
Kodjo, Barbe, and Herman all represent areas of work that have presented themselves as only ever more necessary as time has gone on. In the United States, Trump has gone so far as to claim that there is some vast unreported criminal network among asylum seekers, although there is no evidence of that. He has also suggested that protesting should be illegal, and on top of those issues, he’s undercut women’s rights through means like his administration’s recent “gag rule” banning domestic organizations from receiving any federal funds under Title X if they provide or even refer patients to the possibility of abortions.
Of course, there issues are hardly confined to the United States — in part through Trump’s own doing, ironically, since early in his administration he signed a global version of that new domestic gag rule.
This Friday, as International Women’s Day got underway, he spent time rage-tweeting about the southern border, the media, and the Russia investigation, before finally getting around to sharing a statistic about low women’s unemployment as if he has anything to do with it and it’s not simply continuing on down long-established trends. He also shared a prepared statement about the day, which stands in stark contrast to his actual personal messages.
This isn’t the first recent time that Obama and Trump have dramatically contrasted in their approaches to similar issues. While Trump was dealing with the fallout from working on paying off an adult film star he had an affair with, Obama shared his thoughts about the negative impact of toxic masculinity at a recent summit associated with his foundation.
As he put it:
‘If you’re confident about your strength, you don’t need to show me by putting somebody else down.’
Trump could learn a thing or two.
Check out Twitter’s response to Obama…
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