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Empowerment of widows crucial part of SDGs: Cheri Blair

Jan 03, 2017

For Cheri Blair, former first lady of the United Kingdom, the challenges for widowhood are universal and global.

Cheri Blair

New Delhi: Former First Lady of United Kingdom and the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair strongly feels that SDG agenda for women empowerment will remain unfinished without focussing on widows.

Cherie, who also runs a nonprofit called the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to boost women in developing nations, in an exclusive interview to Ashok Kumar of OneWorld South Asia said that entrepreneurship is a must for women empowerment. Excerpts from the interview:

OneWorld South Asia: How do you think focus on widows is essential to achieve SDG 5 (gender equality) as well as related SDGs and their targets?

Cherie Blair: Empowerment of widows is an essential part of the SDG agenda in general and, of course, agenda 5 in particular. It is crucial because if you can’t help widows you are not helping their children, you are not helping them in their personal development.

Not focusing on widows also mean that you are not stopping violence against women. Women are stewards of our family, of our land and of our country and they have so much to give.

OWSA: Do you think mentioning widows in the SDG 5 agenda ensures that justice will be meted out to them?

Blair: British Indian Lord Rajinder Paul’s the Loomba Foundation, a UN ECOSOC-accredited NGO working for the cause of widows is ceaselessly striving to ensure that the United Nations always mention widows when they talk about the problems of women across the world.

Widows have to be given a special focus because they have particular problems because of cultural practices around widowhood.

OWSA: How do you think small and micro enterprises can bring financial independence to not just widows but all women?

Blair: Entrepreneurship is important for both men and women but it is more crucial for women. For example, SDG 8 encourages the formalisation and growth of micro, small and medium sized enterprises which can be instrumental in empowering women.

If women can earn their own money they can make a choice about how to spend it. Because we know, when you give women a choice about how they spend their money then they spend it wisely.

Research has shown that if you give a dollar of development to a woman, she would spend 90 cents of it or ninety percent of it on her family. She will not spend on herself but on her family and community. Therefore, enabling a woman means enabling her community.

OWSA: How do you think the plight of widows connects women across the borders?

Blair: Well, people often think that widows are just the South Asian problem or that of the developing or poor countries, but that is not true.

The Loomba Foundation is working in various parts of the world including Africa which explains how their plight is a challenge across the globe.

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