UK Politics

Cherie Blair: There's a backlash against women

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Media captionCherie Blair talks about women, sexism and power

Cherie Blair says there seems to be a "backlash" against the progress of women in politics.

Asked whether sexism had played a role in the US election, she told BBC Newsnight: "There does appear to be some kind of backlash."

Mrs Blair said "unacceptable" things were being said "by people who frankly should know better".

She is founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women which promotes women's rights around the world.

"I believe that the vast majority of men are not sexist - that actually most men love their mothers, respect their wives, and are passionate about having the best opportunities for their daughters."

"The problem is we seem to have a culture which sort of shrugs its shoulders and says 'Oh well, you know men - that's just the way they are.'"

Speaking to Newsnight's Evan Davis, she said she was "sad" not to see Hillary Clinton win the US presidential election.

"I think we can't just focus on the individual personalities. It's about what is it that enables women to get to the top? And there does appear to be some kind of backlash.

"And what I fear is that we've rather given permission for people to say things which I thought that we'd stopped giving that permission...

"What seems to be a shame at the moment is we are getting things which are unacceptable which are being said, and being said by people who frankly should know better. And I think that's a bad thing."

Mrs Blair said that she is encouraged by the change in parenting roles in the UK, and the increased involvement in men - including her husband.

"Young men now who are much more hands-on fathers than their own fathers, and I have to say that my husband was much a more a hands-on father than his own father - when the idea was that real men went to work and women women stayed at home, and for a man to show caring was regarded as a weakness."

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Media caption"My husband was a much more hands-on father than his own father": Cherie Blair

She said work practices need to change to meet the realities of more shared parenting.

"We still organise our work in such a way as though we were still living in this sort of mythical world where women all stayed at home and men went to work."

"I say mythical because in my own case, my mother had to work after my father left us, so I was always brought up by a working mother.

"The difference between my mother and myself is that because she didn't have my education, she didn't have the resources that I had which enabled me to have a great career."

Cherie Blair was speaking to Evan Davis. You can watch the full interview on BBC Newsnight at 22:30 GMT on BBC Two - or catch up afterwards on iPlayer.