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I Love the Energy of Mumbai: Cherie Blair

Daily News and Analysis India, 8 December 2010

I am in India to promote equal opportunity and economic empowerment for women.

Cherie Blair’s interest in empowering Indian women is well-documented. This time, it’s no different. Excited about touching down in India again, Cherie elaborates on her visit and plans for India, this time around. Excerpts from the DNA interview below.

Since you’ve been involved with charity in India for quite sometime now, what are the sectors that need urgent attention according to you?
I’m in India to promote equal opportunity and economic empowerment for women, because that’s an area that needs urgent attention, not only here but in every country in the world.If you empower women economically you can make significant progress towards reaching some of the Millennium Development Goals — such as tackling poverty, improving educational opportunity and healthcare for mothers and children.In India, while there are many women who are educated and are able to find a job in the formal economy, gender discrimination still exists, both in the work place and in rural areas in the agricultural sector.

Do you feel that the Indian government is doing enough?
The Indian government faces tremendous challenges, but the strategy it’s following — working with the private and non-profit sectors — is the way to make progress.Certainly the Global Gender Gap report has shown India’s ranking improving over the last year, so progress is being made.

What’s it that draws you to Mumbai time and time again?
Mumbai has a special place in my heart and that’s why I have chosen to host the conference here.I love the energy of the city and with so many fantastic successful women in Mumbai. I strongly believe it could be at the forefront of the women’s movement in India. Of course, though the city has enormous potential, it also faces some tough challenges, such as affordable housing, water and sanitation.

Are you planning to visit any other part of the country?
I’ve been lucky enough to have visited many different parts of India over the years, in many different capacities — as wife of the Prime Minister, with my Foundation, visiting Plan International’s projects, as President of the Loomba Foundation, Patron of CINI and for other charities as well.This particular visit will be a short one as I have to return to the UK, but I visit India at least once a year and plan to return in 2011.

To view the article on the DNA website click here