Most famously known by her married name – Blair – Cherie Booth QC is celebrated for her work in human rights, in particular women’s and children’s rights. Patron of many charities (Breast Cancer Care, Jospice, Scope…), Booth’s legal work mirrors this. She was one of the 22 barristers to set up Matrix Chambers, known for its work in human rights and public law; has her own charity foundation the “Cherie Blair Foundation for Women”; and set up her own international consultancy firm, Omnia Strategy. Booth has represented over 30 governments, as well as manifold international corporations, and is clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Booth is a significant player in women’s rights. She supports controversial quotas for women to help them succeed in politics and business, “If we wait for it to happen naturally, I think it’s going to take a long time”, and empowers women in business through her foundation. Instead of fighting the law on their behalf, she wants them to stand up for what they need themselves. Booth was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2013 for her services to Women’s issues and charity and the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill medal in 2007. She is also Vice Chair of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership founded by US Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Not only has Cherie clocked up an extensive legal resume, but has been an active member of The Labour Party, having run for MP, and supported her husband Tony in his leadership of the party. Certainly a publicly-recognisable figure, Booth has come a long way from her unassuming background. Raised by her mother and grandmother, Cherie was educated at a grammar school in Lancashire. She undertook her LLB at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), gaining a first-class honours, before becoming top in her class for her Bar examinations.
Booth has certainly not been without her controversies. Raised Catholic, she has argued for a renegotiation on the rules against contraception in the Catholic Church, claiming these rules can hold women back in their careers. She also argued on the Begum case, where Begum was banned from wearing her jilbab at school, which in turn meant Begum didn’t return to school due to – as she argues – the infringement of her religious rights. Booth even made a case against her husband’s government, where she argued that the government supported institutionalised discrimination against Gurkha soldiers, who were given less pay and worse conditions than British soldiers.
Cherie Booth has had a colourful career oscillating between law, politics and business, each successful and fruitful. Throughout her life she has fought for the amelioration of women in our society, and equally is a great example of the accomplishments of women herself.