Parliament Square's first ever statue of a woman has been unveiled by Theresa May, coinciding with the centenary of the start of the UK suffrage movement.
The statue depicts suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett, from whom gender equality charity The Fawcett Society gets its name. She holds a sign reading 'Courage calls to courage everywhere', a quote from a speech Fawcett gave after fellow campaigner Emily Wilding Davison died under the King's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.
In May 2016, campaigner Caroline Criado Perez launched a petition to get the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square, which was signed by almost 85,000 people and supported by Sadiq Khan.
Sadiq Khan said:
Today is an historic day. Finally, Parliament Square is no longer a male-only zone for statues. From the very first week of my Mayoralty, I supported Caroline Criado Perez’s campaign to put up a statue of a woman in Parliament Square, and I’m so proud that the day of its unveiling is now upon us.
As well as being the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square, it's also the square's first statue designed by a woman. Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing OBE was selected by the Suffrage Statue Commission.
I hope those viewing the work will be able to appreciate this along with being able to celebrate Millicent Fawcett along with all the other suffrage supporters and activists also honoured.
Other statues in the square include depictions of Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Sir Robert Peel, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela.
Campaigner Caroline Criado Perez OBE, commented:
When I went for a run in Parliament Square two years ago and first noticed that all the statues there were of men I could never have imagined quite how perfectly the dream would eventually be realised. Gillian Wearing’s design is everything I could ever have wanted - and more – for the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square. I’m so grateful to everyone who worked so hard on this campaign to make this happen. It’s been a brilliant team effort, and one I’m so proud to have played a part in.