2014 Honoree

Cherie Blair

CBE, QC, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

“If women have their own income, they have autonomy; they can make decisions not only about their own lives, but also about their children’s.”

Who inspires you the most?

I’d put my mother up there, without a doubt. A single parent, she raised my sister and I after my father deserted us when I was 8 years old, and she remains an inspiration to me still. But I have met so many women around the world that I admire, often while traveling with my husband, Tony Blair, when he was Prime Minister – women who are desperate for economic independence and the ability to support themselves. All they need is the right help. That’s why I set up my Foundation for Women, to provide the help they need to become successful women entrepreneurs and grow their businesses.

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty years ago?

That if you have a good idea, you should run with it and don’t be put off by the challenge.

Fill in the blank: You can never have enough __________.

Good books to read.

What City best describes your personality?

Liverpool, where I grew up, without a doubt. My husband still calls me a ‘bolshie scouser,’ which means an argumentative person from Liverpool. Most Liverpudlians I know are also argumentative, so there must be something in the city’s water supply.

What gets you through even the toughest days and what are you most grateful for?

My family, of course.

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most? Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media? Why or why not?

Not surprisingly, I care passionately about women’s financial empowerment. If women have their own income, they have autonomy, they can make decisions not only about their own lives, but also about their children’s. That’s the driving principle behind my Foundation. And no, I don’t believe women are presented fairly in the media. There is far too much emphasis on how they look instead of what they can do.

What is your best read? Favorite character you would most like to be?

I love so many books. I am just reading Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch”, which I am enjoying. And of course like many others, I would love to be Elizabeth Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice.”

What will it take for women to be viewed as equal to men?

There’s no magic formula, we just have to keep working at it. And we have to make sure that men are included in the struggle, as the answer must include a different work/life balance not only for women, but for men too.

What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

Best decision: setting up my foundation.
Worst decision: that second bar of chocolate.

Social media has exploded. How can women use it to market themselves without seeming narcissistic?

It doesn’t have to be narcissistic. Earlier this spring, I met Sheryl Sandberg and we discussed ways in which Facebook can help women entrepreneurs establish and grow their businesses. As a result, our Mentoring Women in Business Programme is now joining forces with Facebook to provide our mentees with advice and support on how best to use Facebook to build up their online presence and promote their products and services.

Write a fortune you’d like for all women to receive in a fortune cookie.

Believe in yourself and others will follow your lead.

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