In his November 9 victory speech to claim the US presidency, Donald Trump said it was time to “bind the wound of division” in America. But mollifying words now cannot undo the Republican’s hostile comments made over the past 18 months, which vilified anyone considered to be “other” - and women, perhaps, most of all.
Donald Trump’s platform has been fuelled by hatred of those who are different from him, both inside and outside of the United States. The divisive Trump campaign exposed the full extent of the racial, ethnic and gender fissures in American society for all the world to see.
Were they always there? Yes – but they could have been mended with equality and inclusion. Instead they have been torn wide open.
Muddled policy and Islamophobia
As a result, any attempts by Trump (and, by consequence, the US) to upholding or imposing human rights and gender equality beyond American shores, and particularly any finger-pointing, will now not only fall on deaf ears but could also backfire.
Trump’s Middle East policy is isolationist but not entirely clear. The president-elect’s unpredictability alone is reason for fear, but his favour for closed borders to Syria and clear anti-Muslim sentiment are explicit and worrisome, both inside and outside the US.
This is the man who, as a candidate, threatened to enact a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. He also said that as president he would kill the families of terrorists in the Middle East, in addition to advocating torture.
There is no doubt that Donald Trump’s election will obstruct women’s progress in the US and worldwide. Nowhere is this more patent than in the Arab region, where women are already far behind and fighting against seemingly insurmountable obstacles to take small steps toward equality. The Arab region has a 91% gender gap in political empowerment and ranks worst in terms of the overall gender gap.
His “anti” comments were not limited to Muslims, of course. Trump has also advocated for deportation of undocumented immigrants and limits to legal immigration. He has said he will build a wall along the Mexican border – a symbolic gesture when the world should be working to tear down walls.
And he will do no favours to the people living behind world’s most tragic wall – in Palestine. Trump told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee agreement imposed by the United Nations would be a total and complete disaster. in March that he would used the US Security Council veto to scupper any United Nations deal on a settlement between Israel and Palestine.
A terrible turn for women worldwide
A Hillary Clinton victory could have been a good example for men in our region - to accept the notion that the best person for the job can indeed be a woman - and, even more radically, that men can stand behind and support women in leadership and serve as allies and supporters.
The moral of this story for the world is that the strong man wins – even though he is the less qualified candidate.
What do we tell young girls about the America we tried to build, and the America the world will now face? Is this the end of the global landmark Roe vs Wade abortion decision, Planned Parenthood funding, bodily integrity and protection of sexual rights and marital equality?
Accusations of sexual assault at the hands of Donald Trump abound. When such a man becomes president, it leaves little hope that the women who have come forward will ever see any form of support. The message is simple: you can brag about sexually assaulting women and it will not affect your career. In fact, it could very well propel you into the presidency.
Trump could also close doors to much-needed international aid. The US is a critical donor to the United Nations’refugee agency in an era with massive war-spurred displacement and migration. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the UN and similar institutions. His lack of support for key international institutions risks undermining the Sustainable Development Goals and other global compacts.
Again, all of this would hit women hardest.
The glass ceiling Clinton tried to crack has now been reinforced; it is stronger than ever.