Melania Trump has made a rare public appearance and speech at the State Department where she said the “time for empowering women...is now.”
The First Lady was speaking at the International Women of Courage Awards ceremony during which 13 women from Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen, and Peru were honoured for their work in law, activism, and organisational leadership in promoting peace, human rights, and women’s empowerment.
Syria and Yemen are countries on President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order. Iraq was named in a previous order, but was subsequently removed.
Mrs Trump faced criticism on social media during her last major public speech at the Republican National Convention because it was believed to be copied from a speech given by former First Lady Michelle Obama.
In her speech at the awards ceremony, Mrs Trump commended the women on stage for their “fortitude of spirit...and courage of convictions.”
“It is our duty to shine a light on the victory of each woman,” Mrs Trump said, still appearing to get used to speaking in public.
She noted also that “wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished.”
Mr Trump has been railed against by women’s rights groups. The Women’s March took place in Washington DC right after Mr Trump took office and the crowds dwarfed that of his inauguration ceremony.
It was also global event. Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in cities around the world, including Antarctica.
Mrs Trump also said people of various backgrounds should be respected because we are “all ultimately members of the human race”
CNN Commentator Kate Andersen Brower noted after Mrs Trump’s first public speech since Mr Trump took office, “does she have a low profile? No she has pretty much no profile.”
Mrs Trump has largely remained in New York, living in Trump Tower with son Barron, instead of moving into the White House. She recently held a luncheon at the White House for International Women’s Day, although Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka has been more of a presence in meetings with heads of state and business roundtables.
Mrs Trump has recently hired a communications director and could begin to make more public appearances.