Cherie Blair delivers Annual Ken Hom Lecture

Friday, 17 September 2010


Cherie Blair delivered a talk on social entrepreneurship to a packed audience at Oxford Brookes.

Cherie Blair delivered a talk on social entrepreneurship to a packed audience at Oxford Brookes.

The event was hosted by Ken Hom; chef, broadcaster and Patron of Oxford Gastronomica and was part of a series of events organised by Oxford Gastronomica, Oxford Brookes University’s specialist centre for the study of food, drink and culture, based within the Department of Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management (HLTM).

Cherie, a human rights barrister, talked about the role of The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in tackling inequality, basic human rights and the rights of women throughout the world.

She praised Brookes for pursuing social responsibility as a core mission: “It wants its students to raise their sights and put what they have learnt here, along with their talents and energy, to building a better more peaceful and fairer world.”

Students within the HLTM department, for example, volunteer in Romania where they help to promote the country as a destination for sustainable tourism. This means they bring much-needed income to the country while preserving its unspoilt beauty.

Cherie said there was still a huge gap between developed and developing nations and that entrepreneurial women were the key to bridging that gap: “It’s not lack of brains but lack of opportunity. When you have budding women entrepreneurs in Palestine or Rwanda…it’s lack of credit, not lack of ideas or energy which is their main obstacle.”

She threw down a gauntlet to her audience: “What transforms society isn’t governments, it isn’t great NGOs, it isn’t even laws – it’s the actions of individuals.”

Donald Sloan, Head of the Department of Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management and Chair of Oxford Gastronomica commented, “We were thrilled to have Cherie Blair deliver the annual Ken Hom Lecture. Not only did her talk stimulate much debate and discussion about the role of social entrepreneurship in extending opportunities to women – it also drew attention to Brookes’ ambition to continue to work in support of those in vulnerable communities around the world”.