Statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett and other east London campaigners unveiled in Parliament Square today
PUBLISHED: 14:44 24 April 2018
Greater London Authority
A statue displaying the names of some of east London's lesser known women's rights campaigners was unveiled in Parliament Square this morning.
The statue, which depicts suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett, sits on a plinth, upon which the portraits of 59 activists are inscribed.
They include Minnie Baldock, a West Ham woman who fought against low pay and established the Canning Town branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WUSU), and Julia Scurr, who served as Poplar’s mayor from 1923-1924.
The figure was unveiled by three generations of feminists – Jennifer Loehnis, a descendant of Millicent Fawcett, campaigner Caroline Criado Perez, deputy mayor for culture Justine Simons, and two pupils from Millbank Academy in Westminster and Platanos College in Lambeth.
The unveiling was also attended by prime minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Theresa May said: “I would not be here today as prime minister, no female MPs would have taken their seats in Parliament, none of us would have the rights and protections we now enjoy, were it not for Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett.
“The struggle to achieve votes for women was long and arduous and Dame Millicent was there from the beginning.
“For generations to come, this statue will serve not just as a reminder of Dame Millicent’s extraordinary life and legacy, but as inspiration to all of us who wish to follow in her footsteps.”
The statue was designed by Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing, and is the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square. Caroline Criado Perez OBE headed the campaign.
She gathered 85,000 signatures on her online petition, and roused the support of Sadiq Khan with an open letter.
She said: “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’s design is everything I could ever have wanted and more. 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.”
The video footage was provided by GLA/Luke Garrett.