Suffragist statue for Parliament Square

Millicent Fawcett, a leading suffragist, is to ‘stand’ in London’s Parliament Square

Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847 – 1929) was a leading suffragist and campaigner for equal rights for women. She led the biggest suffrage organisation, the non-violent (NUWSS) from 1890-1919 and played a key role in gaining women the vote. This achievement is sometimes not as well known in today’s public mind as the more militant activity of the suffragettes of the Women’s Social and Political Union founded by Emmeline Pankhurst.

A bronze cast of Fawcett, the first statue of a woman to be erected in Parliament Square, will be unveiled in February 2018 to commemorate the 1918 Representation of the People Act. With this legislation, some women gained the right to vote for the first time. In 1928, the Government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act giving the vote to all women over the age of 21 on equal terms with men.

In the cast bronze representation by Turner-winning artist Gillian Wearing, the first female sculptor to have work erected in the Square, Millicent will be ‘wearing’ a design copied from one of Fawcett’s own brooches, and is holding a plaque with the words: “Courage calls to courage everywhere”. Fawcett spoke about this theme following the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison when she attempted to impede the progress of the King’s racehorse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

The statue is to be funded by the British Government as part of a £5 million fund to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage. It is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s art programme for the First World War centenary. In addition to the main image of Millicent Fawcett, the names of other women who fought for the right to vote will be engraved on the statue plinth.

Caroline Criado-Perez’s commentary on the first statue (Daily Telegraph website). Caroline started a petition in 2016 after realising that there was not a single statue commemorating a woman’s contribution to national life amongst the ones that currently stand in Parliament Square.

Green Light for Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament Square (Fawcett Society)

 

Blog by Abha Thakor

 

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