There are just twenty days to go to the second annual 4theRegion City Centre Conference, Swansea’s commercial and cultural showcase for the new decade.  As we count down to the conference we’re celebrating some of the people whose work inspires us.

White Roses

White roses are often used as to signify purity and youthful promise. We believe it’s our duty as a society to give young people the opportunity to fulfil that promise, and it goes without saying that it should be available to young women every bit as much as young men.

At least, it should go without saying.

Malala Yousafzi is known to many of us as a campaigner for educational opportunities for young women. At fifteen she began to write blogs for the BBC calling for the right to an education for girls in her native Pakistan. She continued even when her life was threatened, and in October 2012 the threat was carried out. She was targeted for assassination by the Taliban, shot and critically wounded while on her way to school. Her recovery and continuing advocacy drew global admiration and paved the way for Pakistan’s Right to Education Bill. Now 22 years old, Malala’s voice is stronger than ever and with each word she reminds us of the power of a call to action for tolerance and equality of opportunity.

We believe Malala would appreciate the work of Patti McKenna-Jones. Liverpool native Patti has made Swansea her home, and Swansea is all the better for it. This week sees Patti leading the city’s celebration of International Women’s Week. Along with Rosie Scribblah, Patti has curated an exhibition that illuminates the lives and work of women who’ve made a difference to their societies and to ours. The exhibition is hosted at Cinema & Co in Castle Street and opens tomorrow, Thursday March 12th from 5.30pm. Visitors will be stimulated by bold work that visits some of history’s dark corners and finds a way to spread light around them. For example, against the backdrop of World War Two, Patti tells us the story of Sophie Scholl, a student and leader of the White Rose Group, a peaceful movement that opposed their country’s Nazi regime. Arrested for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets at Munich University, Sophie was executed along with two fellow resistors including her brother. With her country on its knees in thrall to a dictator she stood up and resisted, because sometimes white roses signify unimaginable courage. Women and men will find plenty to enjoy and admire in this exhibit. They’ll also be treated to free cake. What’s not to like?

Patti’s contribution to Swansea’s cultural life extends far beyond this one exhibit. She plans to create a hub for female artists at Friendship House in John Street. The hub will be a hotbed of ethical, eco-friendly creativity. Patti’s vision is for murals to be created using donated paint, and for costumes, masks and banners to be designed using upcycled fabrics, paper and plastic. Performance groups will create original music and culinary creativity will be front and centre too, with vegan dishes prepared from donated food.

You can support Patti’s fundraising efforts for the Friendship House Hub by donating to her crowdfunding page here. Anything you donate will be an investment in Swansea’s future.  

White roses are also used as a symbol of new beginnings. We see the 2020s as a perfect opportunity for new beginnings in the city we love, and we applaud Patti McKenna-Jones’s efforts to deliver something not only new but also ennobling and inspiring.

We’ll be celebrating Swansea as a champion of equality of opportunity at the upcoming Swansea City Centre Conference on Tuesday 31st March. Have you registered yet? Click here for your FREE ticket.