London’s Parliament Square sits in the shadow of Big Ben, the House of Commons, Westminster Abbey, and the Supreme Court. It is one of the city’s top tourist destinations, a stage for protests, and home to 11 statues of British icons and world leaders—all of whom are men.
But a woman will soon join the ranks of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Sunday. Millicent Garrett Fawcett, who fought for women’s right to vote, will be honored with a statue in the square. Last year a petition with some 70,000 signatures—including those of author J.K. Rowling and actress Emma Watson—asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan to erect a statue of a suffragette.
Fawcett formed the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in 1897. She died at age 82 in 1929—the year after British women won the right to vote. Fawcett “continues to inspire the battle against the injustices of today,” May said yesterday. “It is right and proper that she is honored in Parliament Square alongside former leaders who changed our country.”
Fawcett is the inspiration behind a women’s rights charity, the Fawcett Society. Its chief executive, Sam Smethers, said Fawcett “has been overlooked and unrecognized until now.”
“By honoring her, we also honor the wider suffrage movement,” she said.
Last week, Oxford University recently launched a campaign to add women’s portraits to its halls and earlier this year Yale renamed a residential college after computer science pioneer Grace Murray Hopper. The construction of Fawcett’s statue continues the long-overdue trend of commemorating women’s historical legacies in spaces once reserved mainly for men.
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