Suffragette Millicent Fawcett to be first woman with Parliament Square statue

A bronze casting of the suffragist leader will be erected in the shadow of the House of Parliament next year, which coincides with centenary of women winning the right to vote.

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

A bronze statue of leading suffragist Millicent Fawcett will be unveiled next year, marking one hundred years since women first gained the right to vote.

Artist Gillian Wearing, with the statue of Millicent Fawcett, which will be unveiled in London in 2018. Image credit: PA

The casting has been created by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing – and will also be the first statue designed by a woman to be erected in the historic square.

Part of a wave of centenary celebrations taking place in the capital next year, Fawcett will join 11 others, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

We want this statue to depict the strength and determination of the women who dedicated their lives to the fight for women’s suffrage

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

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

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.

Dame Millicent died in 1929, a year after women were granted the vote on equal terms to men.

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.

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

The statue will portray Ms Fawcett holding a placard reading “courage calls to courage everywhere” – taken from a speech she gave after the death in 1913 of campaigner Emily Wilding Davidson at the Epsom Derby.

Caroline Criado-Perez, an activist who in May 2016 started a petition for a suffragette statue to stand in the square that received more than 85,000 signatures, 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.

Main image: PA