Parliament Square Has Just One Statue Honouring A Woman

Millicent Fawcett became the first woman to be honoured with a statue in Parliament Square back in 2018.

History was made back in 2018 as Westminster’s Parliament Square finally got its first statue commemorating a woman. A century after her efforts helped secure women the right to vote, a statue to Millicent Fawcett was unveiled in traditionally male-dominated square. A leading figure in the suffragette cause, Fawcett spent sixty years campaigning to give women the right to vote, and saw her efforts rewarded with partial representation in 1918, and finally, full representation in 1928.

Millicent Fawcett
Photo: @mayorofldn

Though Millicent Fawcett became the twelfth statue in Parliament Square, she was and remains the only woman honoured in such a way. She joined eleven statues honouring men, including those of Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln. Having lobbied Parliament for years over equal rights, it’s only fitting that her statue looks upon the Palace of Westminster. She carries a banner reading “Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere”, and the statue also recognises the efforts of other leading suffragists. The plinth is etched with 59 figures of the women (and the handful of men) who helped to achieve universal suffrage.

Millicent Fawcett
Photo: @opheliabits

The statue also made history for another reason: it is the first one in Parliament Square to be designed by a woman. Turner-Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing is the sculptor behind Millicent Fawcett’s likeness. Indeed, the whole process of getting a female statue into Parliament Square was led by women, with the campaign having been started by Caroline Criado Perez (who also successfully got Jane Austen onto the £10 note).

Millicent Fawcett
Photo: @karenjena16

Whilst this honour was obviously long overdue, we’re really really hoping that this will be the first of many celebrating the inspirational women of history. The battle for true equality continues, but as Millicent Fawcett herself famously stated, “courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice shall not be denied.”

See Millicent Fawcett’s statue in Parliament Square, Westminster, SW1P 3JX. Nearest station is Westminster.

Also published on Medium.

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