Get to know our CEO: a letter from Dhivya O’Connor
Two months into her role as CEO, Dhivya O'Connor shares her experience and what we can expect from the Foundation under her leadership.
In November 2023, the Foundation was pleased to welcome Dhivya O’Connor as our new, permanent CEO. Dhivya brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role and is looking forward to leading us towards achieving our bold new goals. Two months into the job, she shares a bit about her background, her experience at the Foundation thus far, and what we can expect in 2024.
“Hi! I’m Dhivya O’Connor and I am delighted to have recently joined the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women as its new CEO. I officially stepped into my role in November and feel hugely privileged to work for such an impactful organisation. I am excited to visit Kenya next month to see how our programmes are delivered in-country, and to hear directly about their impact for the women entrepreneurs we work with.
I officially stepped into my role in November and feel hugely privileged to work for such an impactful organisation.
Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is essential for our societies and economies to prosper. Growing up in India, I witnessed societal and structural inequalities for women and girls, and personally encountered many instances of gender stereotyping and discrimination. These experiences shaped my feminist beliefs and fired in me a passion and drive to advocate for the rights of women. Economic justice is essential for women to achieve gender parity, and this is why I am drawn to the Foundation’s work.
I have spent many years as a leader in the charity sector and am also the host of The Charity CEO Podcast. Producing the podcast has given me fantastic insights into the challenges and successes of other non-profit leaders. I am pleased to bring my experience, learnings and knowledge to the Foundation at such an exciting and pivotal time.
Economic justice is essential for women to achieve gender parity, and this is why I am drawn to the Foundation’s work.
The Foundation aims to revolutionise business opportunities for one million women by 2030—the end point for the UN’s sustainable development goals. This is a highly ambitious goal, and we certainly have our work cut out for us, but we’re off to a fantastic start. I am excited to lead the charge; more on that soon!
To mark International Women’s Day this March, we will be publishing our latest research findings. This pivotal study is one of the first ever pieces of research specifically looking at women entrepreneurs’ access to and use of AI. It also explores women entrepreneurs’ experiences with digital inclusion, unpaid care and domestic work, access to finance, and other key barriers that limit their ability to succeed as business owners. A proud moment for the Foundation to platform the voices of women entrepreneurs and highlight the challenges they face.
These issues were key discussion points at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which I attended last week with our Founder, Cherie Blair CBE KC. At Davos I attended many interesting discussions and panel events, which covered topics related to women’s leadership, AI and emerging technology, economic equality and much more. As my first visit to Davos for WEF, it was an incredibly energizing and inspiring experience!
As we kick off 2024, I look forward to making significant progress on the Foundation’s key priority areas, such as digital investment and strengthening our partnerships. I aim to share quarterly updates, so that readers like you can stay informed on our latest news and developments.
Like me, I hope you will continue to be inspired by the impact and stories from the women entrepreneurs we work with. Thank you for your ongoing support.”
Read women entrepreneurs' stories...
Radhika’s story: flavourful solutions to reduce food waste
Radhika Basdeo creates innovative food products to eliminate farm waste. Our Road to Finance programme boosted her financial literacy and management skills, enabling her to hire more staff and increase her independence.
Adaeze’s story: clothing women with confidence
Adaeze Onu creates clothing that makes women feel confident. Our Road to Finance programme has supported her to do it.
Kea’s story: leading South African women in business
Kea Modise-Moloto is leading the way for women in business. Our Road to Leadership programme supported her to do it.