The Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing has unveiled her depiction of suffragist, Millicent Fawcett to a crowd which included Prime Minister Theresa May, Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. It is the first statue of a woman to grace Parliament Square and the first statue by a female artist in this prestigious and historical location.
Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the “truly great” campaigner’s “lasting impact”
Millicent Fawcett was a campaigner for women’s right to vote during the early 20th Century. She is seen as one of the most influential women of the past 100 years.
The bronze statue shows Ms Fawcett holding a banner with the words “courage calls to courage everywhere” written. It was commissioned as part of this year’s centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act – which gave some women over the age of 30 the vote.
Millicent Fawcett, a suffragist and women’s rights campaigner made it her lifetime’s work to secure women the right to vote.
At the age of 19, she organised signatures for the first petition for women’s suffrage, though she was too young to sign it herself. She became President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (the NUWSS) from 1907-19. With 50,000 members it was the largest organisation agitating for female suffrage at the time. Her powerful and peaceful mass campaign was instrumental in securing the first extension of voting rights for women in 1918.
In 1913 she was awarded a brooch engraved with “For Steadfastness and Courage”, She died in 1929, a year after women were finally given universal suffrage. Her work has continued ever since, with The London Society for Women’s Suffrage renamed as The Fawcett Society in her honour in 1953.
2018 marks 100 years since women first secured the right to vote, and Millicent Fawcett is making history again. Thanks to a campaign led by Caroline Criado Perez, she is now the first woman commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square – a landmark moment for the wider suffrage movement, and for women everywhere.
Gillian Wearing OBE RA (born 1963) is an English conceptual artist, one of the Young British Artists, and winner of the annual British fine arts award, the Turner Prize, in 1997. In 2007 Wearing was elected as lifetime member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.