Parliament Square is to gain its first ever statue of a woman. Who might that woman be? Millicent Garrett Fawcett. Fawcett was the founder of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies better known as the suffragists. Unlike their better known counterparts the suffragettes, the suffragists used peaceful tactics to try and achieve votes for women.
The statue is designed by Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing and was commissioned following Caroline Criado-Perez's campaign for a statue of a woman in Parliament Square. The statue will be unveiled in 2018 to mark the centenary of (some) women getting the vote for the first time.
The statue has received planning permission, and its final design has been unveiled. In it Fawcett is holding up a sign that reads:
Courage calls to courage everywhere
The words are taken from a speech she gave after the death of suffragette Emily Davison, who died trying to pin a votes for women flag to the King's horse at Epsom.
The new statue joins the ranks of greats that are depicted in the square including Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and Nelson Mandela.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
As a proud feminist at City Hall, I have given Caroline's inspired campaign my full support and am delighted that we have been given the go-ahead to bring the first ever statue of a woman to the centre of British democracy in Parliament Square — something which is long overdue. Next year marks a century since the start of women's suffrage in the UK - one of our country's most pivotal moments — and our mission now is to ensure that we can begin the centenary celebrations with the unveiling of this landmark piece.
Writer and activist, Caroline Criado-Perez, said:
I'm thrilled that we have been given the go ahead to install not only the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square, but also the first statue created by a woman. Let her stand facing Parliament for years to come reminding us all that "Courage calls to courage everywhere.