Last night, the banqueting suite in Leeds Civic Hall hosted the exhibition launch of 100 portraits and stories of Yorkshire women and girls. The exhibition displayed ten framed photographs and a video slideshow of 100 girls who volunteered to open up and share their personal stories and achievements. Many of the girls spoke of how they overcame difficult situations and came to be in the ‘on track’ position they find themselves today. The photographs, taken by Nick Gregan and Johanna Hilton, were displayed beautifully as a centre piece in the room; with each portrait artistically capturing the different girls’ stories. In the presence of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds, the women, girls and their guests were invited to mingle, celebrate and enjoy the display and once again share their stories with each other and the public.
This exhibition is part of a much larger project led by Ruth Dass called ‘Connecting Enterprising Women’. The project aims to connect women and girls by encouraging them to share their stories with one another, and through this, close the gap that exists between schools and businesses. Susan Pollard of Business in the Community said in her opening speech; “the more we find out about each others’ stories, the more we realise we have in common”. Through the sharing of personal stories, the project has succeeded in breaking down the barriers that exist between young girls in local schools and Yorkshire’s successful business women. By establishing personal connections it has become a pivotal force in motivating and encouraging young girls in Leeds to increase their aspirations, build their confidence and prepare them for a successful future.
The evening was truly inspirational and gave recognition to the multitude of young female talent that exists around the city. It was amazing to see how with a little support and being given an opportunity, these girls have been able to grow from their personal life challenges, build confidence and succeed. The exhibition, when fully completed, will be moved to the Houses of Parliament for four weeks in March 2014 to mark International Women’s Day.