Cherie Blair has told a wireless industry conference that the Internet and mobile broadband can help eliminate poverty and empower women across the globe.
Blair was the guest speaker at the sixth annual Future of Wireless International Conference in Cambridge, organised by non-profit Cambridge Wireless and the UKTI. The event's goal was to explore how wireless tech can make a positive impact across the world, improving the lives of people and society in general.
Blair said: "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. 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."
She added: "Making a real dent in this inequality will take cooperation across all sectors – public, private and non-profit."
Blair said that the Internet was far more than a convenience for women, and she argued it's a crucial lifeline for many across the world who can access life-changing support via mentoring. She noted: "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."
She gave examples of how wireless tech can work to better the world, citing the Cherie Blair Foundation's Mentoring Programme, which in conjunction with Qualcomm Wireless Reach has provided 3G tablets to allow business professionals to become mentors to women entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
David Cleevely CBE, Chair of Cambridge Wireless, said of Blair: "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."
Image Credit: Angela Baker