Cherie Blair, the wife of Britain’s former prime minister Tony Blair, has a new book coming out and a career of her own as the British equivalent of a trial lawyer. So, what better time for her to sit down with ForbesLife Executive Woman and talk about the importance of women being financially independent.
Forbes: How did you do it all–manage a career, husband, children, a public role?
Like every other woman, I muddled through somehow. It’s really important to be able to support yourself–my mother’s situation taught me not to be dependent economically. You never know what life will throw at you. You may have a fantastic husband and everything else, but tomorrow he could be driven over by a bus or struck down by illness.
Yes, we seem to remember “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen,” the single produced by Australia director Baz Luhrmann, proclaiming the same thing 10 years ago.
My mother worked because she had to. My dad left us, and she’d been a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. You know, the acting life, while potentially a glamorous one, is quite hard; you can find yourself suddenly without any means of support. So my mother ended up working in a fish-and-chips shop down by the docks in Liverpool. That wasn’t glamorous at all. But it taught me and my sister that even though my mum wasn’t there when we came home from school–my grandmum was–it didn’t take away from her being the best mum we could’ve had.
If women do get to the top of the corporate ladder, Cherie says there’s not a glass ceiling, instead the barrier is made of reinforced concrete. That’s reassuring.
Few women make it through the glass ceiling–we just had a report here in England [indicating that] it’s not just a glass ceiling, but a reinforced concrete one–so when they do get to the top, they attract a lot of attention. [If a woman loses a high-profile job], it becomes, well, you know, it’s about all women. Which of course it isn’t. When it’s a man, it’s about an individual misfortune.
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