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Cherie Blair tells young women to be financially self-reliant

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Sarah Graham
WVoN co-editor 

Women need to support themselves financially, the founder and patron of the Cherie Blair foundation said last week, when speaking to an audience of young women in North London.

Ms Blair, wife of the former prime minister Tony Blair, blamed women’s social conditioning for the gender pay gap, which currently stands at 20 per cent, saying that women are often too nice to ask for a pay rise.

“Part of the reason why men are still paid a higher salary is because girls are socially conditioned to be nice, so that holds them back from asking for a salary increase,” she said.

Speaking at the Dialogue Society, Islington, Ms Blair urged young women never to be financially reliant on “your father, your brother, your husband or your son.”

She added that women should be independent from male influence, and never have to worry about “anyone leaving you.”

A successful barrister, Ms Blair revealed that as a teenager she had dreamed of being prime minister herself, and said her working class Liverpool upbringing prepared her for life at Downing Street.

Ms Blair was raised by her mother after her father, actor Tony Booth, left when she was just eight years old.

She spoke highly of her mother’s influence: “My mother was a trained actress but also spent a long period working in a fish and chip shop when my father left her.

“She picked herself up and got herself a career in travel. But it taught me a very important lesson – to be self-reliant. If you support yourself financially, firstly you won’t have to worry about anyone leaving you, but secondly you can make choices you wouldn’t otherwise make.”

A mother of four herself, Ms Blair said, “I have spent my life taking risks and pushing myself forward, and by the time I’d got [to Downing Street] I’d learned a lot of lessons that helped me deal with [the press’s] attitude.

“I have no regrets about my life, because it’s made me who I am.”

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