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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

International Women's Day and being ‘brilliantly diverse’

Keela Shackell-Smith
Keela Shackell-Smith

Plans are well underway for the Civil Service’s biggest cross-government International Women’s Day celebration to date, with not one event but six!

Last year, we listened to feedback that one event in London was not enough, so this year there will be cross-government events in Cardiff, Manchester, Bristol, Exeter and Cambridge as well. In addition, departments and agencies are running their own events along the international theme #BeBoldForChange.

International Women's Day logo (2017)

This year, International Women’s Day is on 8 March. The Cross Government Women’s Network, Defra and the Department for Transport are jointly supporting the cross-government events this year. The theme is #BrilliantlyDiverse, focusing on the ‘intersectionality’ of diversity.

Group of women
Members of the Cross Government Women's Network

Intersectionality is where multiple identities intersect with each other. For example, a question networks often hear is, “As a BAME woman, do I join the Women’s Network or the BAME Network?” We have multiple identities and the theme #BrilliantlyDiverse celebrates this.

Intersectionality is also the theme of Same But Different, a project created by Business in the Community, that celebrates the diversity of women in the workplace. Their website has a useful description of what intersectionality means:

The reality is that women are not one homogeneous group. Women do not all share the same experiences and challenges. They do not all have the same perceptions, simply because they are women. Our experiences at work are influenced by multiple aspects of our identity, such as race, age, sexual orientation, class, gender identity, disability, income, culture, religion, and health. Our sex or gender may be the same, but our identities, our successes and our struggles are different.

We are thrilled that Kathryn Nawrockyi, Gender Equality Director, Business in the Community, will be joining the London event to talk about the project and intersectionality.

Here’s a rundown of all our events on 8 March.


The High Commissioner for Canada, HE Ms Janice Charette, will be hosting the cross-government event in Canada House. Speakers include:

  • Melanie Dawes CB, Permanent Secretary DCLG and Civil Service Gender Champion  
  • HE Ms Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Loraine Martins, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Network Rail
  • Kathryn Nawrockyi, Gender Equality Director, Business in the Community
  • Emma Howard Boyd, Chair, Environment Agency
  • Clare Moriarty, Permanent Secretary, Defra
  • Yvonne Coghill, Director, NHS England
  • Charlotte Dring, Cross Government Social Mobility Network


Our first cross-government International Women’s Day event in Wales! This is a fantastic opportunity to bring together women across the country. The DVLA, Department for Transport, Crossing Thresholds, Cross Government Women’s Network and Set The Scene are supporting the event, hosted by Ann Jones AM, Deputy Presiding Officer National Assembly for Wales, in the Senedd, Cardiff. Our theme is #beingboldinWales. We will be joined by our assembly members and we will be lighting up Cardiff Bay in purple to mark the event.

  • Elin Jones AM, Presiding Officer, National Assembly for Wales
  • Louise White, HR Director DVLA
  • Claire Clancy, Chief Executive, National Assembly for Wales
  • Catherine Burton, British Airways Pilot
  • Kate Rose, Trans Champion, Welsh Government
  • Fiona McInnes-Craig, Thresholds Ltd
  • Joanne Hopkins, Head of Home Office in Wales
  • Jill Hatcher, Deputy Director, Department for Transport
  • Joy Ogeh-Hatfield, motivational speaker/coach
  • Jacqui Murray, Head of Advanced Materials, Innovate UK
  • Catherine Brown , CEO, Food Standards Agency
  • Cerys Furlong, CEO, Chwarae Teg
  • Emma Melrose, Head of Supplier Relations, DVLA
  • Dr Manon Antoniazzi, new CEO, National Assembly for Wales
  • Rachael Yokoo Laurence, Head of Diversity, Health and Well-being, Department for Transport


Defra, Environment Agency and Department for Education are supporting this event, and the Environment Agency is also hosting. Speakers include:

  • James Bevan, CEO, Environment Agency
  • Doug Wilson, Director, and Gender Champion, Environment Agency
  • Jaya Chakrabarti, CEO, Nameless, a Bristol-based digital agency, and Vice-President of the West of England Initiative
  • Francine Hudson, Government and Equalities Office (Women and Economy)


Highways England, Department for Education, HMRC and Department for Work and Pensions are supporting the event, hosted by Highways England. Speakers include:

  • Jacqui Gavin, a:gender
  • Darren Burns, Head of Recruitment, Timpson’s
  • Ted Miller, Head of Learning and Resourcing, Highways England


The Environment Agency, Land Registry and NHS are supporting the event, hosted by the Environment Agency. This will also mark our first South West Cross Government Women’s  Network meeting. Speakers include:

  • Alan Burrows, Environment Agency
  • Carol Steele, Transfigurations
  • Annette Benny, NHS
  • Asmi Stanley, NatWest Banking
  • Rhea Brookes, Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Shararah Amoui-Arabi, Torbay Council
  • Senior Voice
  • Claire Vetori, Environment Agency


Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Department For Education, Legal Aid Agency, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Cross Government Women’s Network are supporting the event, hosted by DCLG. There will be a panel discussion, the launch of a mentoring and job-shadowing scheme, and networking.

Spaces available in Bristol, Exeter and Cambridge

The London, Manchester and Cardiff events are full and have a waiting list. If you would like to know more about the Exeter, Cambridge and Bristol events, contact

During the events, we will be live tweeting from all events using the hashtag #BrilliantlyDiverse.

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  1. Comment by Martyn posted on

    In HMRC we have events in Belfast, Birmingham,Bristol,Cardiff, Cumbernauld,Leeds, Liverpool, London,Newcastle, Nottingham and Preston. I am sure the CGWN would have loved to have events in more regions but they needed volunteers to come forward to run them. Keela, Elly I hope your events go really well 🙂

  2. Comment by Jo Shaw posted on

    In Leeds One our DWP Women's Network is hosting an IWD event on Weds - this is only our 2nd meeting so we are new to this - all very exciting. On Weds we will be having a discussion group led by Oxfam to give us the international perspective, a session to challenge our own barriers, then some time looking at women in digital and tech. We are running this with colleagues from HMRC who are based in Leeds city centre. Good luck to everyone running their own local event.

  3. Comment by C posted on

    It may be brilliantly diverse, but with 5 of the 6 events being in the south of the country a better geographic spread might be advisable in future