For me International Women's Day is an opportunity to remember some of the incredible women who have helped us win the rights we enjoy today here in the UK. Progress has been slow but this world is unrecognisable to us today, and it is hard to imagine the courage and passion of countless people that it has taken to change this status quo.
My first visit since arriving in Zambia was to a UK aid adolescent girls empowerment programme in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the capital, Lusaka. This initiative is supporting more than 1,500 of the most vulnerable girls, providing safe spaces and mentoring to help build their confidence and life skills.
One problem is that women still think of engineering as dull and male-centric. There is a pervasive image of grease, hard hats and building sites. But our research shows that girls are prepared to engage with engineering given the right motivation. They are also interested in the relatively high salaries that can be achieved in the sector, and why not?
Tomorrow, August 23rd, British girls are likely to yet again outperform boys in GCSE results. So why as I travel around the world am I so often told that girls are either not as bright or not as interested in school as boys? Perhaps because while girls are outperforming girls in the "Global North", in Latin America and in the Caribbean, the opposite is true in many developing countries.