S2 E1. Woman and Change: Setting the Scene with Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair

[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction

[00:00:00] Overdub: Hello and welcome to season two of The Story of Woman. In today’s world, it can feel like change is happening, but only in the wrong direction. While we agree there’s still a lot of work to do, we’re reframing that story.

[00:00:17] Overdub: I’m your host, Anna Stoecklein and each episode of this season I’ll be exploring how women make change happen from those at the top helping to drive it. We’ll look at where we are on this long march to equality, what lies ahead, and how important you are in the fight.

[00:00:38] Overdub: This isn’t a story of a world that’s doomed to oppress women forever. This is a story of an opportunity to grow stronger than ever before. Exactly as womankind has always done.

[00:00:50] Section: Episode level introduction

[00:00:52] Anna Stoecklein: Hello, hello, hello. Welcome back or if you're new here, welcome. I am so happy you're [00:01:00] here and you've picked a really great episode to start, because today I speak with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cherie Blair. I know. I can't believe it either.

[00:01:12] Anna Stoecklein: Even though Hillary and Cherie are longtime friends, this was actually the first joint podcast interview they had ever done, which is, yeah, pretty cool. That's, that's pretty cool. And unlike most of my interviews, we got to do this one in person. I'm going to resist going on a tangent about what it was like to be in the room with these historic figures, because I want to get into our conversation, but let me just say, especially to the Americans out there, not to bring up any old wounds, but Hillary Clinton would have been the best President America has ever seen. And that's a fact that I'm just going to throw out there and leave, leave out there. For now, we'll circle back.

[00:01:56] Anna Stoecklein: But if you're listening to this, do have a watch of our [00:02:00] conversation as well. It's on YouTube and on the website so you can watch us live and in person.

[00:02:05] Anna Stoecklein: So this is the first episode of a wider series that explores all things change and change makers, the people behind it. And my conversation with Hillary and Cherie really sets the scene for all of this. Both of these women have not just lived through, but have helped to lead multiple waves of feminism so they know a thing or two about driving change. So of course I was keen to have them help us understand how exactly real and lasting change happens, but I also wanted to have them help us make sense of the current moment that we're in right now. This moment of both pushback and progress.

[00:02:43] Anna Stoecklein: So we talk a lot about that and about where we are and how to keep building on that momentum. And we also talk a lot about the foundation that Cherie started, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and all the important work that they're doing, putting power back into the hands of women and women entrepreneurs [00:03:00] around the world, which as it turns out, is one of the best ways that we can drive change and keep building on this momentum.

[00:03:08] Anna Stoecklein: And while there's so much evidence supporting the importance of putting power back into the hands of women, we also get it into the many barriers that hold women back from this power, like the deeply ingrained but widely pervasive stereotypes that we have about.

[00:03:25] Anna Stoecklein: You know the ones- he's assertive, yeah, we like that. But she's, uh, she's a little too aggressive for me. Yeah. I think she's, she's coming off a bit aggressive. And get ready because we actually hear Hillary role play this exact scenario. And if there's anybody in the world that knows what it's like to be stereotyped with a gendered adjective, it's Hillary Clinton.

[00:03:49] Anna Stoecklein: Which brings me to the last key point we discussed today- what is it like to be them, to be female leaders at the top in this male dominated world [00:04:00] and public figures and a culture that terrorizes women who dare speak their mind? So yeah, we get a little person.

[00:04:08] Anna Stoecklein: And while these ladies don't need an introduction, I'm gonna give one anyway because we should never stop talking about women's accomplishments. And these women have many.

[00:04:19] Anna Stoecklein: Hillary Clinton has served as Secretary of State, Senator from New York, first Lady of the United States, first Lady of Arkansas, a practicing lawyer and law professor and activist. Hillary also founded Onward Together, an organization that works to advance progressive values by encouraging people to organize, get involved and run for office.

[00:04:40] Anna Stoecklein: She's held a lot of first titles, which are incredible, but especially when you look at them all collectively. So she was one of just 27 women out of 235 students in her Yale Law School. She then became the first woman partner at the oldest law firm in Arkansas. She was the first woman to chair [00:05:00] the National Board of the Legal Services Corporation. She was the first person who declared on the world stage that human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights. What a revolutionary thought. She was the first, first lady ever to be elected to public office. First woman, senator from New York. And of course she was the first female nominee of a major US political party. And she went on, in this election, to win the national popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Let us never forget that fact, and hers was the first campaign in history of which the majority of donors were women. I love that.

[00:05:44] Anna Stoecklein: And Cherie Blair is a leading international human rights lawyer, writer, philanthropist, and committed campaigner for women's rights. She's a leading King's council and was awarded a CBE in 2013 for her services to women's issues. [00:06:00] Americans, just so you know, CBE, and King's Council, these are both, basically the highest ranking awards you can get that are given out by his Majesty the King himself. So just know they are incredibly big deals.

[00:06:17] Anna Stoecklein: Cherie was a founding member of Matrix Chambers, which was formed in 2000 and specializes in Human rights law. She's the founder and chair of Omnia Strategy Law Firm. In 2008, she established the award-winning Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which has so far supported Over 200,000 women across more than a hundred countries. And she was the first wife of a British Prime minister who had her own full-time career.

[00:06:43] Anna Stoecklein: So clearly these women are pioneers of many things- politics, law, business, but also social roles. They pioneered a brand new type of female public figure. As you'll hear them talk about shortly, they were a part of this first [00:07:00] generation of professional women with husbands in charge of governments. But of course, like all the women that came before them, they were still expected to look a certain pretty way to stay quiet and to play the supportive wife role. They didn't, I mean, they were supportive, but they refused to give up their own identities in spite of all the pushback and vitriol they received, to put it incredibly lightly. They both kept their careers and went down paths that looked really different than what was expected of them in these roles.

[00:07:32] Anna Stoecklein: And in doing so, they made it easier for the rest of us to do the same. And that's essentially how change happens. You know, there's the accomplishment itself. So Hillary and Cherie refusing to give up their identities. Then there's the example that it sets, we all see this and we start to refuse to give up our own identities. And then there's the shift in societal norms that happens. People start to get comfortable with and then begin to [00:08:00] expect women to keep their own personal identities their entire life. Again, what a revolutionary thought.

[00:08:08] Anna Stoecklein: So that's why change really does happen every time a woman steps outside of her box and creates a little puncture in whatever ceiling is looming above her. And you know, it happens when someone blazes the trail, which makes the trail bigger and harder for society to ignore or deny.

[00:08:30] Anna Stoecklein: So America may not have been ready for a female president five years ago, but Hillary has normalized seeing a woman's name on the ballot, which has created more space for all of us to follow in her footsteps. So let's do it. Let's join a trail or blaze our own and keep changing the world. Exactly as womankind has done since the beginning of our subjugation.

[00:08:57] Anna Stoecklein: All right, that's enough for me. [00:09:00] Please enjoy this incredible conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cherie Blair.

[00:09:06] Section: Episode

[00:09:06] Anna Stoecklein: Well, it is the absolute honor of a lifetime to be sat here with two of some of the most historic and important women of our time. Cherie Blair, CBE KC, and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. Welcome and thank you so much for being here today.

[00:09:27] Cherie Blair: Oh, it's our pleasure. We're gonna have a lot of fun.

[00:09:29] Hillary Clinton: We love getting together for any occasion, so this was a terrific idea.

[00:09:33] Anna Stoecklein: Wonderful. I'm all for it. So I won't waste precious minutes of our time by asking you to introduce yourselves to us or reading out your bio. But what I would love is for you to introduce your relationship to us. I'd be curious to hear how you met, how long you've known each other. But also what types of roles have you played in each other's lives and what has that really meant to you over all these years?

[00:09:58] Cherie Blair: I suppose we met through [00:10:00] politics.

[00:10:00] Hillary Clinton: Uh, we did through our husbands.

[00:10:01] Cherie Blair: Yes. And through our husbands, that's a terrible cliches, isn't there?

[00:10:04] Hillary Clinton: It is. It is.

[00:10:05] Cherie Blair: But I think that's, that, that, that is how we...

[00:10:07] Hillary Clinton: In the nineties.

[00:10:08] Cherie Blair: In the nineties. Probably when you were First Lady, right? Mid nineties.

[00:10:12] Hillary Clinton: Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

[00:10:13] Cherie Blair: And my husband had just become leader of the opposition.

[00:10:15] Hillary Clinton: And I know it's one of those memories where I met Tony, uh, after he became leader of the Opposition, he came to Washington and we had mutual friends who had a reception for him. And one of the very first things he said to me was, oh, you have to meet my wife Cherie. You and she had so much in common. And it was not long after that that Bill and I were in, uh, London.

[00:10:44] Hillary Clinton: And uh, we did get to meet and then they would come to Washington and we would get to spend time together. But we did have a lot in common. She's actually a practicing lawyer. I'm a recovering lawyer, but we won't...

[00:10:58] Cherie Blair: You never really recover.

[00:10:59] Hillary Clinton: [00:11:00] You never recover. It's a, it's a lifelong effort. But we both really respect the law and believe it can be an instrument for justice and relieving oppression, and certainly in Cher's case, taking on human rights abuses. So, there was always so much to talk about and not just, you know, political what's happening in, you know, the US or the uk. But you know, all of the personal, and family and frankly trading stories about what it was like to be in the spotlight as a woman married to a president, or married to a prime minister and all that came with because it was not easy. I don't know that it ever was, but it's more difficult in today's hyper information ecosystem, uh, than ever before.

[00:11:49] Cherie Blair: I always think that people don't realize quite, in fact, they realize quite what it's like they would never volunteer for it. You always think when it can't be that difficult and by the time you realize it really [00:12:00] is that difficult, it's too late.

[00:12:01] Hillary Clinton: It is.

[00:12:01] Cherie Blair: But I remember shortly after that, we came to Washington and you took me around and you showed me all the things that you were doing to give you some ideas about what we might be able to do, right? Because you suddenly are in a, in a position, not of power, but a position of influence.

[00:12:16] Hillary Clinton: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

[00:12:17] Cherie Blair: And, you know, what do you want to do with that? How can you try and make a contribution without meddling in, uh, things that, you know, the political things, which you should only meddle in if you are actually an elected politician.

[00:12:29] Hillary Clinton: Or asked.

[00:12:30] Cherie Blair: Or asked well, or asked, of course. You know, you, you gave me a lot of good advice about that.

[00:12:34] Hillary Clinton: Well, we were, we were in, if not the first, certainly close to the first generation of professional women whose husbands ended up, you know, in charge of governments. And up until then there had been a kind of expectation that there was a role to be filled. And it was largely to be seen but not heard and not to [00:13:00] do anything independently. And I remember I was very impressed how you really were determined to keep doing what you'd spent a lifetime preparing to do, which was to represent clients, stand up and speak out, and it was really brave cherie, very difficult but brave.

[00:13:21] Cherie Blair: Well, the thing about it was I always thought, And when, when I went into Downing Street, there had been always this assumption, as you say,

[00:13:28] Cherie Blair: seen and not heard. Later on, I spoke to Mary Wilson, whose husband, Harold Wilson had been Prime Minister in the sixties and seventies, and she said, you know, at some points I used to think, why don't you just get a cardboard cut out of me and just stick it in the corner? You know? Because she, got so frustrated that that was literally what was expected of her.

[00:13:48] Cherie Blair: I was very conscious that however typical that might have been in the past, in 1997, a vast majority of British women actually did work. Even when they had families and children. Because [00:14:00] they, for various reasons, they both wanted to and also often had to. And therefore, this idea that the wife of the Prime Minister had nothing else to do with her time but look after him. Mm-hmm. as opposed to perhaps having ambitions and ideas, you know, it was very old-fashioned.

[00:14:18] Hillary Clinton: It was, but it was a deeply embedded stereotype and particularly difficult for the press, especially what we might consider the tabloid press or the right wing press to accept that. And so in addition to all the other reasons why they might be looking to be critical, the idea that you would speak out or you would have responsibilities, or in your case even try to continue your profession, was just viewed as some kind of terrible breach of protocol and tradition that had to be punished at every [00:15:00] turn.

[00:15:01] Cherie Blair: Well, I think that, but that idea of stereotypes, uh, about women is, is very much a, a recurring theme, isn't it? When we talk about women across the world, the expectations that society puts on women, the idea of what a ideal woman should be actually so often has no resemblance to the reality of what women want for their lives.

[00:15:28] Cherie Blair: And we certainly, you know, in the work that I do now with women entrepreneurs, they're so often tell us about stereotypes being a huge barrier to them being able to do what they want to do.

[00:15:40] Hillary Clinton: Well, I think that's why what you're doing is so important because there is a expectation, in some parts of the world, let's say, the more advanced economies that, and I'll speak for my country particularly, that it's really fine if you wanna go work and have a profession, good for you, but you [00:16:00] still have to do everything else. And we're gonna make it as hard as possible. We're not going to have paid leave, which we don't have in the United States. We're not going to have quality, affordable childcare universally available, which we do not have in the United States. I mean, the list goes on. So go, show what you can do, but don't forget you have to do everything else.

[00:16:23] Hillary Clinton: You know, that is just a burden that we saw, particularly during Covid, where, you know, the stresses and challenges of women being at home trying to homeschool their children, trying to figure out how to keep their family going. Many of them lost jobs, many of them had what we called essential jobs, so they had to go out into the workplace in the midst of an epidemic. I mean, the whole situation was incredibly challenging. And so yeah, you can go out and good for you- you got an education, go show us what you can do. But don't forget, we still expect [00:17:00] you to fulfill the stereotypes of a prior generation as well.

[00:17:04] Cherie Blair: And I think that's particularly, as you say, COVID really brought that home. It actually, I think, brought it home to men too. But nevertheless, all the studies show, don't they, that yes men did actually do a bit more over Covid. They tended to think they did a lot more than perhaps they actually did. But nevertheless, the majority of the responsibilities still fell onto women who were then also, and for many women, they weren't able to continue to do their jobs as well. Because we rely so much, don't we, on usually other women who help us. Whether it's someone who might help you with your cleaning or someone who helps you with the childcare, and then suddenly Covid meant all of that went.

[00:17:46] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah. That's why, you know, I'm fascinated to hear about your all's relationship to one another and what you've meant to each other through the years because the relationships that we form with other women is so powerful and [00:18:00] so important, and there's a kind of through line that runs through as well from one generation to the next.

[00:18:06] Anna Stoecklein: And you've just taken us back a little bit and given us a glimpse of what life used to be like. And you know, this series is all about change and change makers and really looking at how did we go from some of those situations that you described from decades past to where we are today, and how do we go from where we are today to an even better, more equal tomorrow where we're not still with these outdated stereotypes.

[00:18:32] Anna Stoecklein: So before we get into that better, more equal tomorrow, I think it's helpful to try to understand where we are in this current moment. You know, obviously we still have many challenges, but if we kind of zoom out and look at the moment that we're in, you know, on the one hand, women's rights are getting rolled back across the world.

[00:18:54] Anna Stoecklein: We're in this moment of immense backlash that at times feels like we're a [00:19:00] society that's doomed to oppress women forever. But on the other hand, you have women and girls across the world that are refusing to stand down and are using that as motivation and momentum to fight back harder than ever before.

[00:19:17] Anna Stoecklein: So, Hillary, you have had a long career driving change. You were coming of age during the feminist movement in the sixties, and you helped to usher in and lead the movement in the nineties. Can you give us some perspective as to this current moment that we're in. I'm curious how it compares to the feminist movements of the past and where you feel like we really are on this long march to equality and then Cherie, perhaps we can get into some more specific issues that we're still facing today and what the Foundation is doing to tackle them.

[00:19:51] Hillary Clinton: That's a great question and before Covid, I would answer it by saying there's no doubt we've made progress. [00:20:00] We've made progress, particularly with education and healthcare. More girls are enrolled and graduating from every level of school, from primary through postgraduate education. We also had greater access to healthcare to deal with the continuing problems of maternal mortality closer linked to infant mortality.

[00:20:25] Hillary Clinton: So access had improved, outcomes were better. All of that was hard fought, but achievable. We had made, but not enough progress, in economic advancement, in governmental and political participation and positions of decision making. And in the whole what's called the security realm in that women were primarily the victims of conflict around the world and very often not empowered to help end those.

[00:20:59] Hillary Clinton: [00:21:00] Post covid it's, I think, fair to say that we lost ground in education and healthcare, particularly in the developing world particularly in Africa because of the shutdown of economic livelihoods, because of fear of the virus. There was a lot of very difficult family situations where after driving down the rate of child marriage, we saw it reversing and going back up. We had the horrific setback of the Taliban coming back into power in Afghanistan.

[00:21:37] Hillary Clinton: So although progress is clear and we can quantify it in many parts of the world, some of the hardest won gains have stalled and even slightly reversed, and in some places like Afghanistan been, you know, totally decimated.

[00:21:56] Hillary Clinton: So here we are talking with you in February of [00:22:00] 2023. The Taliban has been even worse than we expected. Iran is killing people over young women refusing to abide by their oppressive dictates over the hijab. Ukraine is seeing a barbaric assault by Russians targeting civilians, primarily women, children, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings. And we see legal setbacks like the Roe v. Wade abortion decision in the United States.

[00:22:31] Hillary Clinton: Added to that is a new element which we're still trying to understand and deal with, and that is the extraordinarily high level of sexism and misogyny and social media and the targeting of women in public life. You know, I was in northeast England, I was up in New Castle in Durham last summer with our mutual friend David Milland speaking in his old constituency. And I met with a group of elected women, some in [00:23:00] parliament, some local elected officials, all from Labor, cuz that was, you know, David's home as well as Tony's.

[00:23:07] Hillary Clinton: The number one thing they wanted to talk about was the fear they now have being in public life. And it's not only, but certainly highly influenced by the murder of Jo Cox, but it is the online abuse that is. never ending. And you know, I think Cherri and I have come in for our fair share of that level of abuse over the years from the so-called press, but also online.

[00:23:37] Hillary Clinton: That is a deliberate effort to try to shrink the public space for women, particularly for young women- who do you think you are getting out there and speaking out, taking unpopular positions, standing up for, women's reproductive rights or the rights of minorities and indigenous people and so much else?

[00:23:56] Hillary Clinton: It's a mixed, story, and we can't [00:24:00] ever deny the progress because we have to keep building on it. We have to keep lifting. We have to make sure that people know it's possible, but we have to go at that with our eyes wide open, that there have been setbacks, some of them almost unavoidable because of a global pandemic, but some of them very deliberate and aimed at reinforcing these stereotypes and putting women in their place and shutting down their voices.

[00:24:26] Hillary Clinton: And I have to say in the last months as I've been trying to help and speak out on behalf of the women in Iran, I am just stunned at their courage. And to think about they're being courageous about showing their hair. I mean, it is just astonishing. I mean, if you don't wanna show your hair, that's your choice. But if you wanna show your hair and as someone who's had a lot of hair issues in my life, some days I wanna show it and some days I don't. That should be your choice. But a government is telling [00:25:00] them no, they have to fit into a certain category.

[00:25:03] Hillary Clinton: And we've also seen back in my country, states trying to tell women what they have to wear if they're in public. There's now dress codes being reintroduced. So there is a battle between women's, further advancement, women's progress, women's options, autonomy, and a backlash that is often unfortunately aided and embedded by the press and social media.

[00:25:32] Anna Stoecklein: Shout out to my home state Missouri where there was just legislation proposed or passed for...

[00:25:37] Hillary Clinton: Oh, it passed. Oh, it, it passed.

[00:25:38] Anna Stoecklein: ...for women not being able to show their arms.

[00:25:41] Cherie Blair: Not show their arms?

[00:25:42] Hillary Clinton: Yeah so no sleeveless anything. And not only that..

[00:25:46] Cherie Blair: What's the problem with women's arms? .

[00:25:49] Hillary Clinton: It's the first step on the road to perdition you know, those poor men, they can't control themselves if they see an arm. I mean, god forbid. And they're supposed to wear [00:26:00] blocky blazers. I mean, it's not just, don't show your arms, wear a blazer. So you can't wear a form fitting dress without a blazer over there to cover it up. Yeah, I mean, really.

[00:26:11] Cherie Blair: Well, it is absurd. And I have to say though, that I am very convinced about the strength of women and their power. And a lot of this is about the fear, if you like, of the power of women. And therefore I think it's really important that women take back their power and that women are able to use their power.

[00:26:35] Cherie Blair: And we see that, don't we? As you say, those women in Iran. They know they may well at best suffer terrible beatings, and at worst could even be executed, but they still have decided they have to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

[00:26:51] Cherie Blair: To my mind, I agree with you about the changes we've seen in education and health, but also I think that when it [00:27:00] comes to where the power lies in society and the power lies in the economy and in politics, there's much more of a struggle. Even, you know, most men can concede that women should be healthy and educated. The question is, are they able to use that education in order to contribute beyond the home and into the wider society? And that's when it starts getting difficult.

[00:27:25] Cherie Blair: when it came to thinking about what I could do when we finished at number 10 Downing Street, it was this idea that if we can help women get economic independence, if we can give them the tools that allows them to be able to make choices because they've got economic independence, then that enables them to decide what is right, and what is wrong for themselves. And that's why the foundation focuses on women's economic independence, because a woman who has control over her own [00:28:00] money can walk away from abusive relationship, can educate her children, can make the myriad of choices, which are already available to half the population, but which seem to cause a problem when it comes to actually allowing women to exercise those choices as well.

[00:28:20] Cherie Blair: And as you said, Hillary, the gap in education and health has closed, but the gap in economic participation is still far too wide. The latest figures about 150, it's gonna take 151 years before men and women reach equality in economic activities.

[00:28:38] Cherie Blair: You know, for me, well we both in fact have grandchildren, including granddaughters. The idea that it's not even in my granddaughter's lifetime, but probably maybe in the lifetime of her granddaughter is absolutely, yeah, unacceptable.

[00:28:56] Hillary Clinton: And those, those statistics came from the World Economic [00:29:00] Forum out of Davos and Covid did so much to set back the economy and certainly set back women that were now at this absurd figure of 150. But I wanna add to what Cherie said about power. You know, we had to fight for rights and in some places they still are, but most of the so-called civilized world recognizes the right to an education, the right to certain healthcare, not everything but much of it. The right to vote, the right now to do things like drive a car or have a job.

[00:29:30] Hillary Clinton: There has been a recognition of rights except in some of the most retrograde, misogynistic places on the planet. But there's a difference between having and exercising rights and having an exercising power.

[00:29:45] Hillary Clinton: And Cherie's point, really important. You know, mary Beard, the great classicist here at, in the UK at Cambridge, wrote a wonderful little book about women in power and you know, she went all the way back to the beginning of any kind of [00:30:00] oral history, recorded history, about how after women we think in a much earlier time, were viewed as, much more autonomous active participants hunting and gathering clans and the like, with the advent of organized societies, the ancient Greeks and Romans obviously, which is what Mary has studied, all of a sudden you see women being told to shut up and go away and their voices aren't wanted and they don't belong in the halls of power. And you know, maybe if they're mythologized as a powerful woman, that's fine. But those powerful women often get their comeuppance in the end anyway.

[00:30:40] Hillary Clinton: And so this is a long strain in human history that the question of women's power is a very frightening one. Too many men and even some women, to be fair, right. So I think that what Cherie is doing with the foundation is one of the clearest ways to have some sense of empowerment is to have [00:31:00] economic capacity.

[00:31:01] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, I would love to hear you elaborate on that, on what putting power back into the hands of women does. I've heard you talk and write about the kind of ripple effect that occurs, and what change actually looks like when you do start to put that power back into the hands of women.

[00:31:19] Cherie Blair: Well, I think one of the things we can say is actually you're just asking about sustainable development goals, how is the world progressing? You know, it doesn't make sense to ignore the skills and talents and contribution of 50% of the society. And yet that's what we're doing.

[00:31:36] Cherie Blair: I mean, so for example, the UNDP estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa they're losing nearly a hundred billion a year simply because of the gender gap in the labor market. Imagine what you could do with those a hundred billion. Dollars, particularly when you think that that's in the hands of women, because what tends to happen, all the evidence shows, that if women have [00:32:00] and run successful businesses get their own money, they're much more likely to put that back into their families. And their local communities and less so on themselves. So it's a really win-win.

[00:32:13] Cherie Blair: And I think Hillary, at one point you said, you know, it's a bit like saying that you can fly a twin engine plane, but you're going to do it with just one engine operating Right. And uh, and I think you said you can get there, but you can get there so much better and safer and quicker if you use both engines. And we literally are not using both engines. And why does that benefit anybody? It doesn't benefit men and it doesn't benefit women.

[00:32:41] Cherie Blair: I think though we have to be a bit more positive. There are plenty of men who do actually acknowledge that and who do work to make opportunities available to women to encourage women to to come on.

[00:32:54] Cherie Blair: And I think both of us in our lifetime often found it, because there weren't any women [00:33:00] in things we were doing that, it was men who recognized that, and I think it's a cliche, but there's something in it that fathers of daughters do tend to think about. What's life going to be like for my little girl when she grows up? And though they may never have thought what's life like, what's life been like for my wife? Cuz that's just, you know, but my daughter on the other hand should not have to go through those things. So it makes sense to everybody to allow women to put their talents to the use of the wider society.

[00:33:33] Cherie Blair: The trouble is, it's not as easy as saying, oh here, you all well, you can work. So get on and do it, because of all the sort of hidden barriers to women coming into the workforce. And so we focus the work in the Foundation in the practical help and assistance to women to overcome some of those barriers.

[00:33:53] Cherie Blair: The first one, for example, is just simple training. Doing business isn't necessarily just because you're good at [00:34:00] something, you know, you could be a fantastic jeweler, doesn't mean you necessarily can work out how to make that talent and jewelry into a business.

[00:34:09] Cherie Blair: So business skills and development, women often haven't had the same standard of of education or if they have, they've had to drop out of education either because the family only has a limited amount of money and so educates the boys or because they get pregnant or they get married. So we focus a lot on skills, and business training.

[00:34:32] Cherie Blair: But you can only do that in a holistic. You have to understand the context in which in women entrepreneurs are working, and that context includes things like the stereotypical idea that women, I mean, I find this astonishing, but so many of the women that we work with tell us, this is the number one issue about them getting access to finance, money to grow and expand their business.

[00:34:56] Cherie Blair: And people literally say women aren't good with money, [00:35:00] women are a bigger risk if we lend them some money, if you're a bank or if we invest in them, if you're an investor. And I mean, I dunno who they think has been managing their household finances for, you know, I mean literally hundreds of years

[00:35:15] Cherie Blair: It is quite extraordinary. And it's just this sexist assumption that women don't do these things that women are, it's actually not true. All the evidence shows time and time again that actually it's a better bet. Women are more conscientious about paying about their loans and yet you find women, smaller sums of money can be available to women, for smaller businesses.

[00:35:38] Cherie Blair: But I was very aware when I was meeting and talking with women and when I was thinking about what I was doing, that, you know, in the end to make a real change, you need women to be able to do more than just a little business that brings in enough to help the family income. You want women who are going to go out there and change their communities to change their countries and contribute to the [00:36:00] development. Not five jobs, but 50, a hundred jobs. You know women who can be role models for other women, cuz this is another issue.

[00:36:09] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah. You have a good mentorship program.

[00:36:11] Cherie Blair: We do. And if you look around and you don't see any other women doing the sort of roles that you want to do, it becomes much harder. But that's another reason to be optimistic because when I was at university, you know, there was 10% of us were women. Now there's 50%. I mean, I think certainly in many places in the world, women can look and see women doing jobs that perhaps 50 years ago they would've found...

[00:36:41] Hillary Clinton: I just wanna add on to what Cherie was saying about, again, the stereotypes versus the evidence, because this is so maddening to people like us who've been pounding these streets, trying to convince people to do things for many years now.

[00:36:55] Hillary Clinton: It is absolutely true women are better Credit risks. [00:37:00] Now we're talking general, but that's what statistics are, right? I'm sure there are individual women that somebody might know that wasn't, but when you look at the overall rate of return and the reliability of paying back, it is clear. And that's from, you know, microfinance all the way up. And maybe that, you know, women, as Cherie said, so conscientious and scared that you know, they've got to do this work and then pay back whoever they borrowed the money from.

[00:37:27] Hillary Clinton: But the fact is, despite that being a very clear track record from the smallest borrowers in micro-credit to women who get in front of venture capitalists, they're not getting the support that the track record and their ideas and their hard work should demand. And that's so maddening because you know, I think what it's some ridiculously small percentage..

[00:37:58] Cherie Blair: 2%,

[00:37:58] Hillary Clinton: 2% of VC [00:38:00] money goes to women startups, founders, and directors or even companies aimed at producing products for women have a hard time getting through. What is it that, we can do to sort of break down the stereotypes? Because the evidence is there.

[00:38:16] Cherie Blair: You know, 2% is not a strategy, 2% is an accounting error. That's just a mistake. Somehow, somehow or other, 2% got through, you know. And yet the people who give venture capital, for example, are supposed to be the most sophisticated investors in the world. If they really read and understand the research, they should be giving 50% to women.

[00:38:38] Cherie Blair: But they don't. And it goes back to this idea about what is suitable for women to do, what their assumptions about what women can and cannot do.

[00:38:47] Cherie Blair: And we find it with the women we work with. One of the women we work with in Botswana. So many of the women, they can't get money from the traditional means, and so they self-fund or they get it from friends [00:39:00] and family.

[00:39:00] Cherie Blair: But one of the women we were working with was talking about trying to raise some investment into her business and eventually a friend of the family did give her some. But even though he knew her and knew everything about, he still said to her, this is a very risky thing that I'm doing. You know, actually it wasn't risky at all really.

[00:39:19] Hillary Clinton: But you know, see there's some other, there's some underlying stereotypes that lead to this conclusion on the part of people with money to invest. And I read some fascinating studies. I think they were out of Harvard Business School, but could have been some other research effort.

[00:39:35] Hillary Clinton: Let's envision a room like this where we have two men, they're pitching. We have two women who are pitching. You all are the decision makers. You know, the men come in and man they sell it. And they are aggressive, their idea is the best idea that anybody's ever brought to the table. And here's what they're gonna do. And they're excited and they're really aggressive in their [00:40:00] presentation. And they walk outta the room and the VC guys go, wow, I love that. That was I mean, powerful. These people have energy.

[00:40:08] Hillary Clinton: So Cherie and I walk in and we're like so excited and we're pitching and we make our case and we walk outta the room and he goes, I don't know, they were a little aggressive. I'm not sure. I think they'll put people off, you know, so it's the kind of, it's not just the stereotypical assumptions about credit. It's about women. It's about who we are, how we express ourselves, how we fit into the mental images of what a woman is supposed to be or not.

[00:40:37] Hillary Clinton: And some women are really good at this. You know, some women are just absolutely perfect. And they're few and far between, but they're worth looking at because they have figured out how to run businesses, make money, and not be viewed as threatening for whatever reason. Usually male mentors, male partners, male, you know, advisors, family [00:41:00] money, whatever the combination might be.

[00:41:02] Hillary Clinton: But so many other women, and I talk to, particularly young women, all the time, they always end up blaming themselves. And it doesn't matter whether they're in the US, UK, Botswana, Hong Kong, wherever they are, they don't see the structural systemic impediments, the stereotypes, the mental images. And so they all say, what's wrong with me and why can't I succeed and why don't they like me? And you know, it becomes that kind of self flagellation.

[00:41:31] Cherie Blair: But you see, that's why, as I said before, it has to be holistic. So when we do our training, when we provide our mentors, you have to prepare women for this cuz there are ways of getting around it.

[00:41:43] Cherie Blair: So it's not just about teaching a profit and loss and ebitda, whatever it is, and all those things. It's actually about how do you overcome these assumptions? How do you come over in an interview so is to be powerful, but not too powerful. [00:42:00] These are the important things.

[00:42:01] Cherie Blair: And when we started in 2008, we've come so far, we've learned so much about how you can do that and we've actually 230,000 women since then. And I was very pleased about that and I thought, this is good. And we've just finished, we had a four year campaign called the a hundred thousand Women Campaign, again, Hillary helped us launch it, we succeeded in reaching an additional a hundred thousand women and it was fantastic, but we realized a hundred thousand women is a drop in the ocean.

[00:42:29] Cherie Blair: We have to do more. So we've set ourselves the target to reach a million women by 2030, which is when the sustainable development goals are supposed to be achieved.

[00:42:39] Cherie Blair: And you know, we can't do that on our own, but we know we want to sort of, as the Foundation to contribute to a movement of people who care about this issue, who want to overcome these stereotypes, who want to enable women to have the power to make their own choices about how life should be for [00:43:00] them so that they can devise a way of working that suits what they want out of their lives.

[00:43:07] Cherie Blair: And so whether it's by giving them access to our training programs or to our amazing mentorships, we've got a platform which matches men and women across the world with women mentees in over a hundred different countries. And that relationship, that personal relationship between mentoring and mentee is such an important one.

[00:43:30] Cherie Blair: Let's bring these women together. Let's work with other organizations. Let's work with people who are interested in this, who are prepared to support us financially, who are prepared to lend their voice to the campaign like Hillary is.

[00:43:43] Cherie Blair: If we can do a hundred thousand in four years over covid, it's not impossible at all to reach a million by 2030. You know, we work in Nigeria, for example. I mean, you could literally reach a million women in Nigeria by then, because there are so many amazing women entrepreneurs in, I [00:44:00] think if you looked at Nigeria, you'd find a lot of entrepreneurship actually comes from women.

[00:44:04] Cherie Blair: But yet again, they do get some, but they don't get their fair share of that capital that leads them to be able to grow and expand their businesses as far as they could go.

[00:44:16] Anna Stoecklein: So sadly, we are coming to the end of our time together. I have one more question that I would like to ask, but first, do you have any called action for our listeners? You know, if they're listening and they want to get involved, they want to help support these women?

[00:44:30] Cherie Blair: Absolutely. Well join us, come be part of this campaign. Whether it's financially, but if you actually wanted a bit more personal involvement to think of joining our mentoring platform as a mentor. The satisfaction rates are like off the charts, you know, a hundred percent. The people who are mentees say they learnt so much about themselves, learnt about skills they'd forgotten they had or maybe didn't even realize they did have, and they make friends for life.

[00:44:58] Cherie Blair: And our mentees talk [00:45:00] about that invisible friend who walks beside them on the journey. Our mentoring program isn't designed for the mentors to tell the women what to do. It's about them being their sounding board and the person who encourages them to keep going when there are times when they feel like they're going to give up. It's a great program. I love it. We need to do more of it. So think about that.

[00:45:25] Cherie Blair: And on top of that, always be conscious about stereotypes. Always be conscious that we have to continually challenge this idea somehow or another women are not as good as men that, you know, there are things that women can't do, there are things that women shouldn't do. It's nonsense. It's not about men or women. It's about people being able to live out their dreams, to live out and shape their lives in the way they want, and to make those choices that work for them [00:46:00] as an individual, as part of a family, and as part of a wider community

[00:46:05] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, the final question that I wanted to ask about hope. How, after everything you both have been through throughout your lives, everything you have seen and this moment of backlash that we're in, that we've spoken about and all of the challenges we're up against, what keeps you hopeful?

[00:46:26] Hillary Clinton: All the changes that we do see all the time. People who refuse to give up or give in, who keep going, who make a difference in their own lives or in the lives of other people. I'm so lucky because I see that on a constant basis, you know, through my work with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, we're always, you know, just trying to help people find partners to do as much good as they can for as many people.

[00:46:54] Hillary Clinton: And it's amazing what can and does happen from that [00:47:00] level of commitment. So I always remain hopeful. And I think from the perspective that, you know, I'm looking out at the world, yeah, there are challenges, but as I said in the very beginning, there's been a lot of progress and we're not gonna turn back and we have to be committed to continuing that progress in all fields of human endeavor.

[00:47:24] Cherie Blair: Well, I said at the beginning I believe in the power and the strength of women, and I think whatever may have been the case in the past there is now such a momentum, such a number of women who've now have tasted what it's like to be able to make your own choices. That some will of course be oppressed and crushed and fall back. But I absolutely believe that having done that, we're not going to give it up that easily.

[00:47:52] Cherie Blair: And I also believe looking at my own sons and, my grandsons only five so I'm not gonna [00:48:00] count him on this, that they will actually, you know, that there are plenty of men in this world who actually love their mothers, respect their sisters, you know, adore their wives, are absolutely passionate about what they want for their daughters and who actually like to have a companion, a friend, an equal in the women in their lives.

[00:48:24] Anna Stoecklein: Well, what a great note to end on. Cherie, Hillary, thank you so much for your time today. Thank you for everything that you've done to make the world a better place for women and girls and people of all genders, and best of luck to the foundation as you continue to empower women to change the world.

[00:48:41] Hillary Clinton: Thank you.

[00:48:42] Cherie Blair: Thank you.

[00:48:44] Overdub: Thanks for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, and think we need more of women’s stories in the world, be sure to share with a friend! And subscribe, rate and review on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to [00:49:00] help us beat those pesky algorithms.

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[00:49:08] Overdub: And for access to bonus content and ad-free listening, consider becoming a Patron of the podcast. This is the best way to help me continue to put out more and better episodes. You can also buy me a metaphorical coffee. All of this goes directly into production costs.

[00:49:27] Overdub: And in exchange, you’ll receive my eternal gratitude and good nights sleep knowing you are helping to finally change the story of mankind to the story of humankind.

[00:49:38] Overdub: This episode was produced and hosted by me, Anna Stoecklein.

[00:49:42] Overdub: It was edited by Maddy Searle. With communications support by Jo Cummings.A special thanks to Amanda Brown, Kate York, and Dan Kendall for their ongoing production support and invaluable advising.

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Cherie Blair, CBE KC
Cherie Blair, CBE KC
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton