Britain's Cherie Blair: Why Empowering Women Is Deeply Personal

The wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair talks to iVillage's Kelly Wallace about new research by her Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on how cell phones can lift up women in the developing world.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cherie Blair, the outspoken wife of the former British Prime Minister and someone who's been described as the Hillary Clinton of Britain.  I had pages of questions for her. (Yes, I was an overly prepared student in school!). She's such a fascinating woman who had a front seat during such an extraordinary time in our history and has since created a foundation for women in her name, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

My first question was why a woman like herself who could do whatever she wanted decided to dedicate herself to empowering women in the developing world.  Listen to her answer here -- an answer that tells you a lot about where she's been and what motivates her most.

 

All these years later, Blair is still aware of the struggles of her own mom and is committed to helping women make it. As part of those efforts, her foundation partnered with the ExxonMobil Foundation to look at how mobile phones, yes cell phones!, can help women entrepreneurs build their businesses.  

The concept strikes such a chord with me because one of my favorite stories of my reporting career was in Bangladesh during a trip with then President Clinton. I profiled a woman who did not have running water or electricity in her home but had a cell phone which she rented out to neighbors in her village to support her family.

"The great beauty of those sorts of businesses is that you can actually combine it with the working hours that suit you," Blair told me.  "You can do it from your own home, you can still manage to look after your children."

So the next time you make a phone call or send a text, think about how a phone just like yours is lifting women up around the world!

We talked to Cherie Blair about a ton of other subjects (remember my pages of questions!) including how to get more women on corporate boards, whether we'll see a female U.S. President in our lifetime and what Princess Kate is like.  Stay tuned for those interviews on iVillage.com.

Kelly Wallace is a former White House Correspondent who is now Chief Correspondent of iVillage.

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