ANALYSIS: How Trump is tackling and drawing fire on women's issues

Comes at the close of Women's History Month.

ByABC News
March 30, 2017, 3:16 PM

— -- Donald Trump drew criticism during the presidential campaign for offensive comments he made about women, but since coming to power, his administration has been keen to put out a countermessage: that his policies could have a positive impact on America's women.

On the one hand, he has garnered praise from some corners for promoting women to top positions in his company and appointing women to certain positions in his Cabinet, and he can count women such as Kellyanne Conway, his former campaign manager, among his closest advisers.

On the other, he has drawn fire for his comments over the years, including a tape that surfaced just before the election that showed him bragging about groping women, for which he later apologized.

He has also faced criticism for a lack of women in key positions in his administration, taking actions during his presidency that some say are detrimental to women's interests and appearing in pictures surrounded by men at forums and signing ceremonies.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer praised the work that Trump has done for women before his appearance at an event focused on women's empowerment Wednesday afternoon.

"Women's History Month is coming to an end, but the Trump administration is committed to empowering women in the workplace. The work that we started this month will not end at the end of this month but will continue," Spicer said.

Here is a review of the the most noteworthy actions affecting women that have been taken by the Trump administration during the first 69 days of his presidency.

Taking action on abortion and women's health

One area where actions have been taken that directly affect women is in health care, including abortion.

On what Trump considered the first full day of work, Jan. 24, he issued an executive memorandum reinstating the Mexico City policy, which bars federal funding for foreign groups that provide access to or counseling about abortions.

Introduced by President Ronald Reagan at a United Nations conference in Mexico City in 1984, the policy was dubbed the global gag rule by abortion-rights groups.

The policy, which has been heavily criticized by Democrats, has been rescinded and reinstated multiple times since its inception, depending on the party affiliation of the president.

Aside from the executive memorandum, other ways in which the Trump administration would change health care for women were stalled with the decision not to vote on the American Health Care Act last week.

If the health care plan had been adopted, Planned Parenthood effectively would have been stripped of Medicaid clients and largely defunded, and individuals would have been barred from using their federal health insurance tax credits on plans that covered abortions — an incentive to insurance companies to stop covering the procedure.

Also under the plan, over the next few years, Medicaid would have no longer covered certain "essential health benefits," as specified in the Affordable Care Act, including maternity care.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump signs the first of three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 23, 2017.  The "Mexico City" executive order, which bans federal funding of abortions overseas, was one of them.
President Donald Trump signs the first of three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 23, 2017. The "Mexico City" executive order, which bans federal funding of abortions overseas, was one of them.
Ron Sachs/Getty Images

Photos taken during Trump signing ceremonies and appearances related to women's issues have raised some eyebrows.

When he signed the Mexico City policy and when he and Vice President Mike Pence met with Republican leaders about the health care plan on March 23, pictures showed Trump surrounded only by men. One photo that was tweeted by Cliff Sims, a special assistant to Trump, from the meeting shows that Conway was in the room, but a photo that Pence chose to share from the same meeting showed 25 men and no women.

Focus on working women

Trump has participated in several roundtable discussions about female entrepreneurs and female-run businesses. The issue is known to be close to his daughter Ivanka Trump's heart as well.

The topic was discussed at a meeting with female entrepreneurs and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Feb. 13, and Donald Trump hosted a roundtable with female small-business owners on March 27.

"Empowering and promoting women in business is an absolute priority in the Trump administration because I know how crucial women are as job creators, role models and leaders all throughout our communities," he said at the event this week.

PHOTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, foreground, speaks as President Donald Trump listens, during a roundtable discussion on the advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders at the White House, February 13, 2017
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, foreground, speaks as President Donald Trump listens, during a roundtable discussion on the advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders at the White House, February 13, 2017.
Getty Images

He has spoken at various points in his presidency about other issues that directly relate to women — including his address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28 — though he has yet to take action on all those points.

"My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave to invest in women's health and to promote clean air and clean water and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure," he said.

Paid family leave, women's health issues and the promotion of clean air and water are issues that Ivanka Trump addressed during the campaign or met with experts to discuss during the transition.

During her address at the Republican National Convention, she said, "As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all."

She played a big role during her father's campaign, especially when it came to issues relating to women and working families. For instance, she was on hand when her father unveiled his child care plan in Pennsylvania in September.

Women in the White House

Conway, the first female campaign manager of a winning presidential campaign, touted Donald Trump's professional relationships with women.

"I believe that Donald Trump is someone who is not fully understood for how compassionate and what a great boss he is to women ... He has been promoting and elevating women in the Trump corporation, in the Trump campaign, in the Trump Cabinet, certainly in the Trump White House. It's just a very natural affinity for him," she said.

Conway and Ivanka Trump are arguably the most prominent women advising the president and are the female figures who appear the most with him.

Until yesterday, Ivanka Trump did not have a formal title in the administration but recently had security clearance approved, received a government-issued communication device and was given an office on the second floor of the West Wing.

On Wednesday she released a statement announcing that she will have the title of special assistant to the president but will not receive a salary.

First lady Melania Trump has decided to stay in New York through the end of son Barron's school year, and she has spoken at only a handful of events since Donald Trump took office, including this morning, when she spoke about women's empowerment at the State Department.

She hosted the International Women's Day Luncheon on March 8 and joined her husband for key moments since his inauguration, such as when they hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife in Washington and Florida in early February and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife in D.C. later that month.

Donald Trump also counts among his close advisers Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser; Omarosa Manigault, the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison; Hope Hicks, a senior campaign staffer turned director of strategic communications; Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal deputy White House press secretary; and K.T. McFarland, his deputy national security adviser.

ABC News confirmed today that, as first reported by Politico, deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh will be leaving her post. Two sources with direct knowledge told ABC News she will be consulting for a political not-for-profit organization — or outside (c)(4) group, after the group's tax designation — that aims to help with his agenda.

Trump has been criticized for what some said was a lack of diversity on his Cabinet. He picked four women for Cabinet-level positions — Betsy DeVos (education secretary), Nikki Haley (U.N. ambassador), Linda McMahon (small business administrator) and Elaine Chao (transportation secretary) — the fewest since George W. Bush's first Cabinet, though he went on to appoint Condoleezza Rice as his secretary of state in his second term.

By contrast, Barack Obama had seven women in Cabinet-level positions at the start of his presidency, and Bill Clinton had six. George H.W. Bush had two, and Reagan had one.

"My Cabinet is full of really incredible women leaders," Trump said Wednesday.

"I'm so proud that the White House and our administration is filled with so many women of such incredible talent," he said.

ABC News' Gillian Mohney contributed to this report.

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