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Women’s Empowerment Dominates Clinton CSR Forum

Cherie Blair announces women's initiative at CGI meeting

While former president Bill Clinton shared the stage with a rather traditional-looking panel of men in suits at yesterday’s Clinton Global Initiative forum on Corporate Social Responsibility, it was Cherie Blair’s announcement of an initiative for women’s health and empowerment that catalyzed the assemblage. The wife of Britain’s former Prime Minister called on corporate leaders to help put cell  phones in the hands of poor women, calling it “a vital educational, health and economic tool”  that could transform their lives.Blair explained:

You can do amazing things in the medical field, in the financial field and in the educational field to bring facilities and information to people where you don’t have clinics, where you don’t have schools and where you certainly don’t have access to banks.

Blair, a human rights lawyer, asked conference attendees to support a pilot project to give mobile phones to 4,000 women entrepreneurs in Kenya, a poor East African nation where about half the population of 40 million people survives on less than $2 a day.

During the CGI mid-year meeting, President Clinton convened a discussion of corporate social responsibility, with CEOs David M. Cote of Honeywell International, Jay S. Fishman of Travelers Cos., Jeffrey B. Kindler of Pfizer, and Ron Williams of Aetna. Following that plenary session, the conference convened smaller groups into Action Networks to discuss  the following target areas: Combating Cancer in the Developing World, Creating Sustainable Livelihoods in the Agricultural Sector, Economic Empowerment of Women, Green Mobility, Investing for Social and Environmental Impact, Technology and Education, Rethinking Waste, The Social Web, and Strengthening Health Systems.

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