Cherie Blair: Investing in Women Entrepreneurs

25 SEP 2014 New York

Barrister and philanthropist Cherie Blair discussed her legal career and efforts to empower women.

On her early years as a barrister: “The world of work was not very female friendly in [the 1970s]. I found myself knocking on doors and asking, ‘Will you take me on?’ People would say, ‘Well we don’t take women,’ or, as I wanted to be a barrister, ‘Women don’t do that sort of thing.’ In fact, the textbook that all young law students had at the time said that women don’t have the voice to carry in court.”

On her motivation to work on behalf of women: “I was inspired to think about how we could do more to empower women because of my own personal history coming from a disadvantaged background who ended up both as a lawyer and a barrister. When I got to 10 Downing Street, I had the opportunity to see so many women around the world who were not in the fortunate position that I was in, who didn’t get to go to university and who didn’t have the economic opportunities I had.”

On the impact of empowering female entrepreneurs: “If we don’t empower 50-51% of the world population and enable them to contribute to the world economy, then the world economy is missing out on an opportunity.”

On the importance of mobile technology for economic empowerment in developing countries: “Once you introduce the idea of the mobile phone not simply as something that you talk into, but something that you can use as a business tool, a whole new world of opportunity opens. What is extraordinary is how people across the world have grasped that opportunity and used it to increase their businesses, to increase their confidence and to increase their standing in their community.”

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