Millicent Fawcett Statue

14-18 NOW

24 April 2018: The unveiling of the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square.

Who was Millicent Fawcett?
The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) leader has just become the first woman to have her statue in Parliament Square - but who was she, and what do you need to know about her?

Born in 1847 in Aldeburgh, from the age of 19 Millicent Fawcett campaigned tirelessly for women’s right to vote. In 1866 she collected signatures on a petition which she was too young to sign herself.

"Without the faithful preparation of the ground over many years by Dame Millicent Fawcett and her colleagues, neither militancy nor the war would have produced the crop”
Manchester Guardian, 7th August 1929

In the 1870s Millicent Fawcett became well known as a speaker and lecturer when women rarely ventured on to public platforms.

As well as doing the necessary and often dull work: lobbying MPs, writing letters and pamphlets, organising delegations, and chairing committees, she also achieved the extraordinary feat of organising a pilgrimage of 70,000 people from all around Britain to march into Hyde Park in July 1913.

Millicent Fawcett was present on 6 February 1918, when the Representation of the People Bill became law.

She was also present in the Ladies’ Gallery in parliament in 1928 to witness the granting of universal suffrage on equal terms with men.

On its passing, she spoke of her “thankful heart”, understating her contribution, noting her “extraordinary good luck in having seen the struggle from the beginning.”

Millicent Fawcett by Gillian Wearing
The story behind this historic statue of Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, created by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing OBE.

This new work presents Fawcett’s individual courage as part of a collective struggle.

Alongside Fawcett, the names and portraits of 59 women and men who campaigned for women’s suffrage are inscribed on the plinth.

The hands in the statue are cast from Wearing’s own. They were scanned and manipulated in order to fit Millicent’s pose within the statue.

The words used on the banner - ‘Courage calls to courage everywhere’ - were taken from a speech given by Millicent Fawcett, following the death of Emily Wilding-Davison at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

Reactions from 14-18 NOW artists on the statue unveiling
"For us to be here, not only as women, but also women of the arts – they’re both two things that have been massively suppressed in our generation and in previous generations – and to be able to give this message via the arts, and what we love, I think is amazing!" - Sylvia Cast Member.
Where to find Millicent Fawcett
The great suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett now stands near Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela – two other heroic leaders who campaigned for change and equality. Visitors can find her at the west end of Parliament Square, between Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (on her right) and Mahatma Gandhi (on her left).
Credits: Story

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