Now Millicent Fawcett Stands Tall in London’s Parliament Square
In 2016, feminist campaigner and journalist, Caroline Criado Perez went for a run on International Women’s Day. While moving through the statues in London’s Parliament Square, she realised that they were all of men. Cut to April 24, 2018, Parliament Square got its first woman statue, of Millicent Fawcett. British Prime Minister Theresa May, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were also present to celebrate and honour the historic move, reported BBC. It is also Parliament Square’s first statue designed by a woman artist Gillian Wearing.
“Women are still woefully underrepresented, but we are making one hell of a start in changing that.” – Perez, at the unveiling.
Millicent Fawcett – Campaigner for women’s rights
Born in 1847, Millicent Fawcett campaigned for women’s right to vote. Her suffrage movement used non-violent methods to campaign for equal rights for women.
In 1866, Fawcett, then 19, collected signatures for the first petition. The petition demanded female suffrage to be handed in to Parliament. In 1928, up from Ladies’ Gallery in the House of Lords, she watched the Equal Franchise Bill being passed.
She died a year later in 1929.
“I would not be here today as Prime Minister, no female MPs would have taken their seats in Parliament, none of us would have had the rights and protections we now enjoy, were it not for one truly great woman, Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett.” – British Prime Minister Theresa May
Mayor, Sadiq Khan had made the erection of a statue of a woman a priority in his first weeks in office. He said that it is important to fix the imbalance and make sure more women are represented in public spaces. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, said the statue was a great first step and that a lot more has to be done.
The square features 11 men, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. The 8 feet 4 inches bronze statue of Fawcett brought a halt to the “all male” representation.
This historic day was a result of a two-year campaign by Caroline Criado Perez, and a petition that collected almost 85,000 names. At the unveiling, Perez told the media she also remained determined to see that the statue’s plinth also bore names and pictures of dozens of women and some men who contributed to the suffrage movement.
Perez’s previous campaign was to have a woman on British bank notes. It resulted in the Bank of England agreeing to picture Jane Austen on every £10 by 2017.
“The first statue to acknowledge that change doesn’t come from one man alone. The first statue to acknowledge that while movements may need leaders, those leaders are nothing without the people who fight alongside them.” – Caroline Criado Perez
Here are some tweets celebrating the unveiling of the statue:
Bhawana is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv