Published: Tue, April 24, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Parliament Square's First Statue Of A Woman Has Just Been Unveiled

Parliament Square's First Statue Of A Woman Has Just Been Unveiled

For the first time ever, a statue of a woman stands in London's Parliament Square. Alongside Fawcett, the names and portraits of 59 men and women who campaigned for women's suffrage are inscribed on the plinth.

It was not until 1918 that voting rights were granted to some women, and Fawcett was in the House of Commons' public gallery, aged 81, when women were given the vote on the same terms as men in 1928.

Caroline Criado Perez, the Brazilian-born activist and writer, started the campaign for a statue of a woman in Parliament Square in 2016.

This is Millicent Fawcett.

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The statue of Fawcett, who helped found the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies in 1897, was unveiled on Tuesday in the square, which is home to representations of 11 men, including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln. It would be another 10 years before that right was granted to all women.

"But few of us can claim to have made an impact as significant and lasting as Dame Millicent, and it is right and proper that, today, she takes her place at the heart of our democracy".

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the whole process for the statue, from petition to project, was made up of exclusively women.

It was the culmination of a two-year campaign by the feminist activist and journalist Caroline Criado Perez, who began a petition that collected nearly 85,000 names.

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Asked how it felt to see the statue being unveiled just two years after launching the petition, she said: "I can't really take the whole thing in".

"There's a number of women who deserve statues".

The movement went on to gain the support of the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister, and the bronze figure was commissioned, and then produced by Turner Prize victor Gillian Wearing.

Speaking before the unveiling of the statue, at a private viewing, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "When you think of the great people in Parliament Square and when you realise that not one of them is a woman, it sort of begs the question, are we saying there haven't been incredible women in the past?"

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Fawcett used the phrase in a speech in 1913 shortly after campaigner Emily Davison died after throwing herself under King George V's horse at Epsom races in a bid to draw attention to the plight of women in Britain.

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