Julie Bishop’s warm words of praise for Ivanka Trump

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Republican President-elect Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump arrives at Trump Tower in New York, New York, U.S., November 11, 2016. Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Australia’s foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop has described US first daughter Ivanka Trump as “one of the most thoughtful and down-to-earth” people she have met. Bishop revealed that they have discussed a mentoring program for female leaders in Pacific Island nations when she met Trump during a recent trip to the United Nations in New York.

The program seeks to boost female representation in the region's parliaments. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of representatives are women. Advocacy group Pacific Women in Politics revealed that three nations have no female members in their lower houses.

"When I told Ivanka Trump about that, she embraced it immediately, said how could her foundation get involved, she could host something at the White House," Bishop said, adding that she was very aware that the White House could galvanise action. Trump also recently appeared in an event about improving employment rates among military spouses and led efforts to improve computer skills and STEM education.

“And I thought, that president produced that daughter – interesting,” The Guardian quotes Bishop as saying. She also described US President Donald Trump’s daughter as measured and outward-looking.

The presidential adviser faced criticism at home for her role in the White House and for supporting Trump administration’s plans to end an Obama-era policy that would have required business owners to disclose gender pay gap. She recently took to Twitter to thank the foreign minister for her leadership in areas of women's economic empowerment and global entrepreneurship.

Lone woman in first Abbott cabinet

Australia's most senior female federal politician also recalled how it was to be the lone woman in the first Abbott cabinet. Bishop said it felt lonely to sit in cabinet with 19 men. She said she would present an idea, get no response, then watch a colleague parrot her idea. The “extraordinary outcome” of her experience was that it led her to make a deal with female colleagues, who later joined cabinet, that any woman’s idea would be vocally supported no matter the topic. Bishop said 49 percent of board members in her department are women.

According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, only one in every 12 ASX 200 board members were women in 2009. The figures improved every year since, although the rate of change has halted this year with only 26 percent of new appointments being women.