Navratilova addresses 100 Women event

Martina Navratilova addresses 100 Women event Martina Navratilova was among high profile names at the event at New Broadcasting House

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'Break boundaries, be yourself and believe in yourself.'

That was the message from former tennis champion Martina Navratilova, who spoke at the BBC's 100 Women event on Friday at New Broadcasting House.

Organised by Global News, the event brought together 100 women from around the world, including well-known British names such as Cherie Blair, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jacqui Smith and Martha Lane Fox.

They joined others including a Syrian blogger and activist, a radical Spanish nun, the head of the English Collective of Prostitutes, the first female officer to command a squadron in the British Army and the UK's first female porn director.

They debated questions about whether you can be a follower of the main religions and still be a feminist, and if the media represents women fairly.

Equality?

In a session at the Radio Theatre debating whether motherhood is a barrier to equality, former politician Ingrid Betancort, who was kidnapped in Columbia, spoke movingly about what it means to be a mother.

She said that her children were only 13 and 16 when she was put in captivity for six years. In that time her children grew up without her. 'I was not the centre of their life any more,' she reflected.

She explained that upon being given back her life, the only thing she wanted was to be a mother again, but she 'had to break the distance of time'. Motherhood, she argued, is ultimately about love.

But Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet, explained that having four children and two dogs left her feeling 'knackered all the time', adding, 'I'm pretty defined by being a mother, perhaps more defined than I would like to be.'

The special edition of World Have Your Say also heard from author Kamila Shamsie, who argued that 'motherhood is not a barrier to equality but childcare is'.

'Novel experience'

The conference marked the end of the BBC Global News 100 Women season of reports and special programmes.

'Novel experience to be one of a handful of men among #100women in BBC radio theatre. Tables turned. Good,' tweeted director of global news, Peter Horrocks, during the conference.

Liliane Landor, controller language services, tweeted about Navratilova's 'inspiring talk'.

'Such an array of interests, backgrounds, hinterlands and expertise! Drinking it all up,' she continued.

And World News presenter Babita Sharma had been 'bumping into legends', sharing her picture with Navratilova on Twitter.

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