The West Midlands is the worst region in the UK for female enterprise, research has shown.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, just 2.5 per cent of adult women in the West Midlands run their own company. This compares with 5.5 per cent in the South West.

As women across the globe celebrate International Women's Day today, the Coventry-based Women's Business Development Agency has called on women to try and bridge the gender-gap in regional enterprise.

Marla Nelson, deputy director of WBDA - which helps women start their own businesses - said International Women's Day should be used to reflect on achievements, but also highlight problems that still exist.

She said: "In today's modern society men and women do not receive equal pay for work of equal value, women also remain largely under-represented in terms of business start-up and ownership."

The difficulties facing women running a business are well understood by 35-year-old Rachael Taplin from Solihull.

So much so that Ms Taplin's website, Mums in Control, aims to help other women realise their business potential.

Before having her daughter Annabel, now aged five, Ms Taplin ran a successful advertising agency with her husband, but after becoming a mum found the pressure of a full-time career didn't fit in with family life.

A period of post-natal depression forced her to think hard about the sort of mother she wanted to be, and exactly how she could achieve it.

After starting her own two party-planning and magazine businesses, she launched the website to give mothers ideas on how to find flexible working solutions of their own.

"As mothers we devote our energy to teaching our children that the world is theirs to conquer and showing them how they can make the very best of themselves and life's opportunities," Ms Taplin said.

"But when it comes to helping ourselves the choices can seem much more limited.

"I wanted to develop businesses that would give women earning potential and the chance to challenge themselves without giving up being 'mum'.

"We know there is so much untapped potential out there.

"The UK and its regions are missing out on a major resource."