Internet can empower women and eradicate inequalities says Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair addresses attendees at Future of Wireless International Conference in Cambridge urging them to harness wireless innovation and forge new collaborations to help eliminate poverty and empower women around the world

Internet can empower women and eradicate inequalities says Cherie Blair

“The internet and modern mobile technology enables us to address inequalities between men and women and to drive growth on a global scale as never before,” said Cherie Blair, addressing industry leaders at the Future of Wireless International Conference in Cambridge last night (30 June 2014).

Speaking as the founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which helps women build businesses in developing and emerging markets, Mrs Blair urged the audience to harness innovation and forge new collaborations to help eliminate poverty and empower women around the world.

“With limited broadband coverage, the mobile phone is already the primary way many Africans access the internet, with some 84 million internet-enabled mobile devices now in use,” said Cherie Blair.

“But women in remote rural areas have even more disadvantage to overcome and without sustainable and scalable investment and intervention, they are in danger of falling still further behind those who do have access to the internet or mobile technology, which means disadvantage as well for their families, their communities and their countries. Making a real dent in this inequality will take cooperation across all sectors - public, private and non-profit.”

Cherie Blair was the guest speaker at the dinner for the Future of Wireless International Conference (30 June-1 July 2014), organised by Cambridge Wireless (CW) – the leading not-for-profit global community for companies involved in the research, development and application of wireless and mobile technologies – in partnership with the Government’s UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) Department.

The conference is focused on how wireless technologies can make a positive change to peoples’ lives and address societal and global challenges. Some 400 industry experts, academics and international development specialists are debating topics from supporting economic development and improving literacy and health, to ensuring public safety, improving the sustainability of the earth’s resources and cultivating entrepreneurship.

“The Cambridge Wireless conference provides a valuable forum for generating new ideas and sparking new collaborations for good purposes,” said Cherie Blair. “For many women, the internet is much more than a convenience; it is a crucial lifeline for them but it also gives all of us the ability, through mentoring, to provide life-changing support with just a few hours of our time. We can use it to reach out across the virtual world to help women to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. The rewards can be incalculable.”

In her address, Cherie Blair pointed to examples of how this wireless technology can work. The Cherie Blair Foundation’s Mentoring Programme has partnered with Qualcomm Wireless Reach to use 3G tablets so that business professionals around the world can become mentors to women entrepreneurs in Malaysia. This programme thus enhances women’s skills and knowledge in the areas of business and technology and helps them grow and maintain their own successful businesses.

Another example is the Foundation’s new Skilling for Change programme in partnership with Accenture and CARE International, which involves development of mobile technologies designed to provide easier access to mobile banking services for women entrepreneurs in Rwanda. Focused on business plan development, financial literacy and investor readiness, the programme also provides tailored skills training and online mentoring.
 
“We were delighted that Cherie Blair came to address our conference dinner and were privileged to hear about the valuable, life-changing work of the Cherie Blair Foundation,” said David Cleevely CBE, Chair of CW. “She has thrown down a challenge for the wireless industry to play its part in empowering and supporting women, their families and communities around the globe. Listening to other speakers during the day at the conference, I know there is a real enthusiasm and commitment to deliver.”  

Other speakers at the CW conference include, Sally Uren, chief executive at Forum for the Future; Carolina Costa, managing director at Orange Innovation UK; Angela Baker, senior manager, Qualcomm Wireless Reach; Prof. Simon Saunders, co-founder, Real Wireless; Steve Jones, chair of trustees at the Humanitarian Centre; Finbarr Moynihan, general manager, sales and marketing at MediaTek; and Pete Hutton, EVP and president of product groups at ARM.

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