There’s no place like home. How many times have we uttered these words as we arrive home from holidays, or are simply away from home for whatever reason?

There is a reason for the warm feeling we get when we come home – it’s where we make most of our memories; it’s where our loved ones live or have lived.

For most people, it’s where we feel safest and are at our most comfortable.

It is just home, and for most of us, it is where we love most.

But is there a fine line between loving where we are from, and being too parochial?

Is there a danger of not thinking about the wider world in which we live, and just thinking of our own wee patch?

When I was Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, one of the great privileges of the job was to travel to various parts of the world to sell Northern Ireland as a destination to invest in, trade with or visit.

It was a fabulous job, as it allowed me to speak of all the positives of the country I love.

And whether it was Abu Dhabi or South Africa, there was always a great interest in Northern Ireland, and it always slightly surprised me that people from far away had such an affirmative view of the place I called home.

If I’m honest, their view of Northern Ireland and its people was often more positive than that of the people who live here!

I often said that I would love to take the population of NI with me on these trips and let them hear and understand how others see us – perhaps I thought it might challenge the inbuilt lack of confidence which bedevils a lot of those living here.

I am just back from a trip to Accra, the capital city of Ghana in West Africa.

I was invited to address the Africa Women’s Leadership Academy, and to be part of their female leadership awards.

Whilst there, I met many capable, intelligent, and passionate young women who are entrepreneurs and businesswomen, and we shared our experiences of challenges and opportunities.

I also had the honour of meeting the President of Ghana and the Speaker of Parliament, and we were able to engage around the empowerment of women in Ghana today.

In politics, there is a need for a step change in Ghana, as currently there are only 14.5 per cent of MPs who are female.

Often, we complain about the lack of women in public life in NI, but after the last Assembly election, there are now 37 per cent of members who are female, which shows what has been achieved here over a relatively short period of time.

When I first became involved in elected politics 20 years ago this week, there were very few women involved in the front line, and it is satisfying to see how that has changed.

Ghana, like many African countries, has a lot of problems. It is currently in receipt of a bail-out from the International Monetary Fund, and inflation is running at 35 per cent, and yet there is a positivity that you don’t get at home despite all their woes.

So, bearing that in mind, why is it that we talk ourselves down? Why do we not celebrate those who succeed?

You don’t have to be from metropolitan London to be at the top of your chosen field.

What you need is a passion to succeed, determination and a lot of hard work.

Look at Jocelyn Bell – “Who?”, you might say? Well, she is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist from ... Lurgan.

And what about C S Lewis, the author of the Narnia series of books, and great Christian apologist, who comes from East Belfast?

Until recently, little was made of either of these two outstanding Ulster giants, and still much more should be said about them, if nothing else to inspire our young people.

We have athletes, academics and businesspeople all succeeding in their chosen field, but many would rather talk about the negative stories that come from home.

Familiarity may indeed breed contempt, but it doesn’t have to.

We should be thankful for the wonderful place where we live – and seek to improve it, of course, but also understand that we are part of a global village.

I often think of how we are a part of something much bigger when at church; across the world on a Sunday morning, Christians across the globe are all worshipping the same God.

Ghana is a Christian country, and not afraid to proclaim it. The warmth, in terms of the weather and in the welcome, was fabulous.

We take great pride in our friendliness, despite all our troubles, and so do the Ghanaians.

On Sunday at Church in Accra, the joy of praising God was such a wonderful experience.

As a Book of Common Prayer, Anglican, it was certainly outside my comfort zone, but when you see Christianity stripped back to the praise and simple Bible study, it is so refreshing to see your faith through a different lens.

When I was with the young women in Ghana, as well as speaking about building resilience to face the challenges ahead, I spoke about confidence, self-esteem, and the need to be a positive leader.

I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who first said: “It is better to light a candle, than curse the darkness.”

The women in Ghana would say, “Amen to that, sister”.