Plans for a statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, the first-ever monument of a woman to stand within the iconic central London location, have been given the go-ahead.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and the Mayor of London are working to ensure that the statue will be unveiled for the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People’s Act, which gave some women the vote, and was introduced thanks to the campaigning of Fawcett and other suffragists and suffragettes.
Gillian Wearing today unveiled a model of the monument, which will be a contemporary depiction of Millicent Fawcett at the age of 50, the year the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was founded. The statue will portray Fawcett holding a placard which reads ‘courage calls to courage everywhere’ – taken from a speech she gave after the death of Suffragette, Emily Wilding Davidson, at the Epsom Derby. Loaned by the Fawcett Society, an original brooch which was presented to Fawcett will be scanned and cast in bronze to feature as part of the monument.
The entire statue will be cast in bronze, using 21st century technology, and will complement the heritage of the iconic square. It will also acknowledge the contributions of the many other supporters involved in the struggle for universal suffrage by including the names of people who helped lead the campaign along the statue's plinth.
Throughout the creation of the statue, Gillian will work with an ensemble of historians, academics and artists to ensure the monument properly reflects the suffrage movement and Millicent Fawcett’s leadership and character. The monument will join the 11 statues already in Parliament Square including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.
Earlier this year, the Government announced that the statue would be funded as part of a £5 million fund to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage. This was part of a wider package of funding for women’s issues in the Budget, including £5 million to support returners back to work after time spent caring, and £20 million to tackle domestic violence and abuse.