Millicent Fawcett and others at a suffrage demonstration, circa 1910. Image credit: LSE Library.

First woman statue for Parliament Square

20 September 2017

The first statue of a woman ever to stand in London’s Parliament Square has been given the green light by Westminster City Council.

The bronze statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett will be unveiled in the historic square in 2018, marking one hundred years since women first gained the right to vote.

Created by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing, it will also be the first statue designed by a woman to be erected in the square. Fawcett joins 11 others, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

It follows a bid for planning permission by Mayor Sadiq Khan, part of a wave of centenary celebrations taking place in the capital next year.

“This will be one of the most momentous and significant statues of our time,” the Mayor said.

“We want this statue to depict the strength and determination of the women who dedicated their lives to the fight for women’s suffrage and to inspire many generations to come.”

A lifelong women’s rights campaigner, Millicent Fawcett helped to bring about the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which allowed some women over thirty to vote for the first time.

The statue will depict Fawcett aged 50, the year the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was founded, while the plinth will include the names of other leading campaigners who fought for universal suffrage.

Caroline Criado-Perez, an activist who in May 2016 started a petition for a suffragette statue to stand in the square, said she was “thrilled” by the project to commemorate Fawcett.

“Let her stand facing Parliament for years to come reminding us all that ‘Courage calls to courage everywhere,’ she said.

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