Delhi, October 2009
With Loomba Trust Pupils on a previous visit
At the Sanskriti School in New Delhi
At the Access Conference
As President of the Loomba Trust, Cherie has endeavoured for many years to improve the plight of widows and their children.
Cherie returned to Delhi in October in order to raise awareness of the plight of widows in India, ahead of her 'Women Mean Business' conference in Mumbai,
She outlined her concerns during a speech at the Sanskriti School in New Delhi, where she was the guest of honour. As President of the Loomba Trust, founded by Raj Loomba, Cherie has endeavoured for many years to improve the plight of widows and their children and to get UN Recognition for 23 June to be made International Widows Day.
In her talk she made it clear that India's support for the campaign will highlight the plight of widows across the world. "There are an estimated 30 million widows in India and we want to reach out to each one of them, especially the younger ones so that they can empower themselves." She emphasised that the plight of widows is a global concern and everyone must act in unison to alleviate their suffering.
"There is no country in the world where women and girls are treated as truly equal to men. And that is still a cause that we have to aspire to and fight for. I think that widows in many ways exemplify this particular problem as these women are forced to fend for themselves in a man's world."
Whilst at the Sanskriti School, Cherie inaugurated a Children's Art Exhibition on Peace, Non-Violence, Tolerance and Compassion and also took part in the prize distribution ceremony. Sanskriti School, which is a partner in the Loomba Trust's work sponsors a number of underprivileged children of widows from slum areas as part of an initiative called Umang. They focus on giving grants to widows, but also offer them training in a trade that will enable them to generate an income for themselves and to fund the education of their children. The Sanskriti School principal Abha Sehgal said "Mrs Blair can prove to be a role model for our children." Cherie also attended and spoke at an Access conference, which is a micro-finance umbrella body for all of India. She took part in a roundtable discussion with a group of twenty women about how despite the increase in microfinance credit schemes across India, there still seemed to be few women in leadership roles.
Cherie is determined that at her own Foundation's Conference, to be held in Mumbai in December, women and men will address these issues together. She met with a number of people who will be speaking at the Conference, which hopes to inspire women to go one step beyond microfinance loans and start their own small and meidum size buinesses
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women works with local partners in different countries to provide women with access to business development, networks and finances. This visit was an example of such a partneship in action.
"My trust, which works on strengthening the capacity of women entrepreneurs, is associated with the Loomba Trust because it is a common goal we are working towards."
For more about the Women Mean Business Conference Click here
For coverage Cherie's interview with theTimes of India Click here
For coverage of the visits in Express India Click here
For a report in Headlines India Click here