Will you be celebrating International Women’s Day?

Next month sees the celebration of International Women's Day; Tuesday, March 8. Embraced by women across the globe; IWD is designed to inspire women everywhere and celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

In no fewer than 15 countries; including China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria; IWD is declared a national holiday. Each year the event has a theme and this year the United Nation's is 'equality in education, training, science and technology'. In the UK alone, some 300 events are taking place, the Eastern region is no exception.

The first International Women's Day event was in 1911, thus this year's event is the global centenary year. IWD not only recognises the braveness of the suffragettes, but highlights and celebrates women's success. The up shot of which is a timely reminder that inequality is still pertinent.

You could be forgiven for thinking that I am a feminist; with all the accompanying and unfortunate connotations of bra burning nutcase; so lets put the record straight. As chairman of the Norwich Business Women's network I sometimes get asked if there is any good reason why any network, exclusively for women; is still relevant. The NBWN itself comes of age this year and will enjoy its own celebration of 21 years in the networking premier league. The question, quite frankly says more about the questioner, whilst the fact that the network continues to thrive merely serves to offer up the answer.

On the same theme; detractors of events, such as the IWD would say that such celebration of achievement, exclusive to one gender only, flies in the face of equality. I say no it doesn't. Drawing attention to the achievements of women is relevant; simply because by recognising the ongoing need for equality at work and in life, we also celebrate our points of difference.

You can argue till you are blue in the face that the playing field is level and opportunities are there for everyone, no matter what their sex - and to some extent I would agree, but some significant differences are unassailable. Evolutionary gender science demonstrates that male and female brains are, to put it in layman's terms: physically different. The part of the brain that controls sex drive and predisposition for food intake for instance. Moreover, parts of the frontal lobe, responsible for problem-solving and decision-making, and the limbic cortex, responsible for regulating emotions, are larger in women. In essence we interpret our world differently; we learn, communicate and function in the workplace, in a distinctive way. In men, the parietal cortex, which is involved in space perception and the amygdala, which regulates sexual and social behavior, are larger: I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.....

Thus, in this significant year I urge you to embrace your strengths and celebrate the difference - for after all; it is that which makes us special.

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Mary-Jane Kingsland is a professional mentor. mary.jane.kingsland@gmail.com