profile image

Cherie Blair

Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Chair of Omnia Strategy LLP

Wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, leading lawyer and committed campaigner for women’s rights, Cherie set up the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in 2008 to help women build small and growing businesses in developing and emerging markets so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies.
Cherie studied law at the London School of Economics and was called to the Bar in 1976. She became a Queen’s Counsel in 1995 and in 2000 co-founded Matrix Chambers. Cherie currently also sits as a Recorder, as part-time judges are known, and is an accredited mediator. In 2007, she was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill medal “in recognition of her high ideals and courageous actions”. Cherie also holds Honorary Degrees at the Open University and Liverpool Hope University.
As well as fighting for human rights in her professional career, Cherie is an active campaigner on equality and human rights issues. In addition to founding her own charity, she remains closely involved with charities with a special emphasis on women and children. She is a member of the International Center for Research on Women’s Leadership Council, Ambassador for the GSMA mWomen Programme, Honorary Vice President of Barnados, President of the Loomba Foundation, Ambassador for Scope, Trustee of Africa Justice Foundation and Patron of a number of charities, including Breast Cancer Care and SolarAid. Cherie is also Vice-Chair of the US Secretary of State’s International Council for Women’s Business Leadership and Honorary Chair of the World Justice Project.
Cherie was an Ambassador for London 2012, supporting the bid to host the Olympics in the UK and was awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Year's Honours List for services to women's issues and to charity in the UK and Overseas.

India's Female Entrepreneurs: Trail Blazing A Path Of Opportunity

India has one of the lowest rates of female labour force participation in the world - ranked 120 out of 131 countries by the International Labor Organization. More alarming still, this rate is in decline. Furthermore, the dearth of women in the labour market is a heavy drag on India's GDP, with India's economic growth rate now the lowest it's been in two years.
08/06/2017 16:37 BST

Three Ways Mentoring Can Make You a Better Employee

When I started my legal career in the 1970s, it was a lonely place for a young, female, working class barrister. Discrimination was rife and there were few female role models. I ended up finding guidance from a male mentor who showed me the ropes, gave me one-to-one tuition and imparted nuggets of wisdom that I still find useful today.
01/08/2016 16:32 BST

The UK Modern Slavery Act: The Bottom Line for Business

While businesses are starting to wake up to this challenge, it is clear from looking at the first of the statements to be published that there remains a long, long way to go. There is no one-size-fits-all easy fix. But some major companies are beginning to give a lead in implementing proportionate, practical policies. Others cannot afford to get left behind, and the latest decision from the High Court again highlights the risk. The human cost is simply too great. Plus, with the added legal, financial and reputational risks - and the spectre of new sanctions if companies do not act themselves - the business case for taking action is now compelling and urgent.
17/06/2016 16:59 BST

Catalysing Growth for Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs

It is an exciting and important time to be delivering this project. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, thanks to expansion in sectors such as telecommunications and a booming film industry. And yet, despite this, a significant gender gap in economic activity persists.
08/03/2016 08:09 GMT

When It Comes to Gender Parity, We're Only Halfway There

In today's world, power lies in our political systems and our economies. These two institutions, broadly speaking, control the way we live our lives. They carry huge implications for our freedoms, our human rights and our levels of security - financial and otherwise. Now consider who has the greatest access to, and control over, these institutions. Overwhelmingly, it's men. This is the conclusion drawn by reams of research into gender parity across the globe. Take, for example, the World Economic Forum's new Global Gender Gap Report, which measures the gender gaps in four key areas - health, education, economic participation and political representation.
02/12/2015 10:47 GMT

Celebrating the Power of Mentoring on Women's Entrepreneurship Day

Confidence is crucial for entrepreneurial success, and having a mentor who can offer encouragement along the way can make a huge difference. But mentoring also helps women develop hard skills that are vital to business growth. Knowing how to write a robust business plan, balance a budget or implement a marketing strategy are competencies that are often out of reach for women living in developing communities... Ultimately, the real success stories are the women entrepreneurs themselves. Onty says that working with Cherie enabled her business to break even for the first time. Business growth aside, she's also determined to use her success to help other young women in her community - proof that empowering women generates lasting impacts.
19/11/2015 08:33 GMT

Human Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals and Business: A Shared Responsibility

On Friday 25 September, world leaders will meet for the UN General Assembly in New York to launch the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One major achievement that should not go unnoticed is that the promotion of human rights is infused throughout the 17 new goals and 169 targets. This marks a major shift in our approach to the role of human rights in driving sustainable development. Development must be about more than just measures of poverty and increasing financial resources - it must be about advancing human dignity.
25/09/2015 11:10 BST

Three Changes That Will Help 'Make It Happen' This International Women's Day

I firmly believe that women possess a wonderful ability to get things done, which is why the theme of this year's International Women's Day - 'Make It Happen' - feels so fitting. I set up my Foundation for Women in 2008, with a focus on empowering women in developing and emerging economies to create and grow their own businesses. I settled on this particular issue because I believe that economic security unlocks huge opportunities for women, enabling them to make positive choices over their own lives and the lives of their children.
08/03/2015 00:03 GMT

Women May Be Under-represented at Davos but Theirs Are the Loudest Voices When It Comes to Calling for Gender Equality

Debate over the level of female participation at global events like the WEF is, of course, important, but we must also look beyond the figures. We must remember that those women who are being heard on such stages are having an enormous impact. Many of the sessions and events I attended at this year's WEF addressed issues of equal opportunity, diversity and women's empowerment - and it was notable that many of these conversations were being driven by women with a real sense of hope and determination.
29/01/2015 17:26 GMT

Mobile Technology Overcomes Barriers to Financial Inclusion for Women

Research shows that if you empower a woman, you empower a family, a community, and indeed a nation. This is because women invest 90% of what they earn back into their families' health and education, making a lasting difference. Yet while there are so many smart and hard-working women out there, many of them struggle in particular with access to banks and loans. Today, more than 2.5 billion adults in the developing world are considered 'financially excluded'. This means that they do not have access to basic financial services, such as savings, bank accounts, or credit. The majority are women.
24/09/2014 16:52 BST

Five Things You Can Do to Make a Difference on International Women's Day

There are a huge number of activities going on around the world to improve the situation for women, and there are places where men are working with women to achieve this. There's no doubt that this movement is gaining momentum and makes nonsense of the idea that men cannot see women as equals. It's an outdated way of thinking, and increasingly governments, businesses, communities and families are all coming to recognise the positive benefits to be had when women and men are working together and treating each other as equal partners. Of the numerous ways to change women's lives for the better, I've picked out five things that you can do to help make that change today:
07/03/2014 17:27 GMT

Reflections on Davos: It's Not Just Women Who Are Working Towards Gender Equality

Last week, I attended my sixth Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland. I attended many of the sessions in and out of the forum and there was no shortage of women's faces. But appearances can be deceptive. Many women attending did so, not as delegates but as staffers or spouses of the delegates. Sadly this year among the 2,500 delegates, only 16% were female, down from 17% in 2013 - its highest ever. Yet, despite this, there was a real feeling that it was time to get serious about ensuring that 50% of the world's population get their fair share of the world's resources.
30/01/2014 11:07 GMT

Women in the Middle East - Beyond Education

The Middle East is a key region of interest because although increasing numbers of women are receiving a good standard of education, the region still lags behind on the core issue of economic equality. On a global scale, the latest figures from the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report show that although the gender gap in education is 93% closed, the gap in economic equality has closed by only 60%.
21/11/2013 08:40 GMT

Networking Their Way to Success

Sitting on the rooftop of Gladys's juice bar in Freetown, I was having an informal chat with some of the women my foundation supports. This wasn't my first trip to Sierra Leone. I was there for International Women's Day in March and had spoken then to some of the women. But this time I got to have a long, in depth conversation with them about the difficulties they have faced as women entrepreneurs and what benefits they get from participating in the country's first network for women entrepreneurs, which is what the Foundation has helped to set up here.
02/09/2013 00:36 BST

The Latest Tool for Women Entrepreneurs in Tanzania

Only 4% of women in Tanzania work in formal employment and only 5% have access to financing from banks, leaving them with fewer resources to invest in their businesses. These challenges stem from a number of gaps where women tend to be left behind in East Africa, such as insufficient business management skills, marketing know-how, networks and access to capital. Often women are pushed into running a business as a last resort rather than making the choice themselves. There are huge demands placed on women in East Africa in particular and yet they are offered little support.
01/07/2013 02:11 BST

Barnardo's Calls for Change to Sentencing Guidelines in Child Sexual Exploitation Cases

The brave children who seek justice for the abuse they have suffered have often not only to re-live the horrors of their experiences, but also to battle the perceptions that sometimes people have of them. These perceptions may mean they are not believed or perhaps they are left thinking that they are to blame for the horrifying abuse - that they in some way brought it upon themselves.
11/03/2013 00:29 GMT

How Rose Heilbron Inspired Me and a Generation of Women

As a child growing up in my grandmother's house in Liverpool, there was one name that always made my grandmother excited: Rose Heilbron. Rose was an advocate, and when she was arguing a case before a jury at the Liverpool Assizes my grandmother would follow her cases avidly, sometimes even from the public gallery.
27/02/2013 08:45 GMT

Make a Change Through Mentoring

Back in the 70s, when I was looking for my first job in the law, it was hard to be taken seriously as a woman lawyer. It was commonplace for women candidates to be told, "we don't take women" or "we've already got a woman", comments that would be unthinkable - and unlawful - today.
04/02/2013 00:05 GMT

The Next Mobile Revolution: Boosting Women's Entrepreneurship Via Mobile Money

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, in partnership with leading mobile operator Millicom (Tigo), have joined forces on an innovative project to correct this trend and maximise mobile financial service opportunities for women entrepreneurs and their communities throughout Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana. This public-private partnership will showcase a sustainable and scalable approach to increasing the number of women entrepreneurs working as mobile money agents in the retail networks of mobile operators.
18/12/2012 12:38 GMT

The Mobile Phone as an Important Tool for Women Entrepreneurs in India

The beauty of modern technology is that it has vastly speeded up communication and the transmission of information, helping businesses to become more efficient and productive. But this acceleration poses a real challenge for many small business owners who can get left behind if they aren't "up to speed". But for the women entrepreneurs in these same areas those difficulties are multiplied by cultural traditions that often prevent them from being included in local business networks and markets.
02/12/2012 19:01 GMT