POLITICS

The Women Who Make Ivanka Trump Clothes Can't Afford To Live With Their Children

One garment worker "burst out laughing" when she heard about the first daughter's book.

14/06/2017 5:39 AM AEST | Updated 14/06/2017 5:39 AM AEST

NEW YORK ― Ivanka Trump has made “women’s empowerment” a signature issue in her father’s White House, championing the nation’s first proposed federal paid leave policy and encouraging women to strive for work-life balance.

But the women who make garments for Trump’s line of clothing are paid so little they can’t afford to live with their children. 

The Guardian interviewed several employees at a factory in Subang, Indonesia, that produces Ivanka Trump-branded clothes. Employees there earn the equivalent of $173 a month ― the lowest legal minimum wage in all the provinces in Indonesia. One worker, Alia, said she lives in a dusty boarding house near the factory, an hours-long drive from her children, and can only afford to visit them at their grandmother’s house once a month. 

“When Alia was told the gist of Ivanka Trump’s new book on women in the workplace, she burst out laughing,” The Guardian reported. “Her idea of work-life balance, she said, would be if she could see her children more than once a month.” 

The Guardian reports that three-quarters of the roughly 2,500 non-union workers at the factory are women, and several “devote almost all their income to children with whom they can’t afford to live.” The factory does offer workers three months paid maternity leave and an extra $10.50 a month if they don’t take a day off for their menstrual periods. 

Trump’s book, Women Who Work, is clearly not written for the women working in her label’s factory. She describes her own life of privilege, complete with nannies, big glasses of wine in front of the TV, and long baths. She urges women to find a “work/life rhythm that’s optimal for you” and to develop “brain-boosting hobbies,” like chess. She regrets not “treating [her]self to a massage” during her father’s presidential campaign.

“We must fight for ourselves, for our rights not just as workers but also as women,” she writes in the book. 

Trump, a senior adviser to the president, stepped down from running the fashion label in January, when her father was sworn into office and it became increasingly clear that she would hold an official role in the White House. But the clothes still bear her name as she travels the world giving speeches about women’s empowerment, and workers are seeing price tags on garments worth more than a month’s rent for them.

“Sure, I’m proud to make clothes for a well-known brand,” one warehouse worker told The Guardian. “But because I see the price tags, I have to wonder, can’t they pay us a bit more?”

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