Millicent Fawcett, an important figure in the UK fight for women’s suffrage, will be honored with a statue in London’s Parliament Square, which is one of those public spaces chock full of statues honoring important leaders—Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela—every one of whom, until now, has been a man.
That’s according to the Guardian, who notes that this will also be the first statue designed by a woman, the commission having gone to prize-winning sculptor Gillian Wearing. The work will depict Fawcett holding a sign that says “Courage calls to courage everywhere,” a line from the speech she gave after the Epsom Derby death of fellow suffragist Emily Wilding Davison. London mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement:
“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.... 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 – and I know Gillian’s creation will do just that.”
The statue is the culmination of a long campaign launched by activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who collected tens of thousands of signatures on a Change.org petition and published an open letter to Khan signed by Emma Watson and J.K. Rowling.
The hope is to have the statute ready for unveiling in time to mark the hundredth anniversary of the law that extended the vote to women in the UK.