What do US President, Abraham Lincoln, UK Prime Ministers Wintson Churchill, David Lloyd George and 3rd Viscount Palmerston as well as South African President Nelson Mandela all have in common? They’re remembered by statues in London’s Parliament Square, outside the Palace of Westminster and have been joined by suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett, who’s statue was unveiled yesterday.
Millicent Fawcett is the first woman to be commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square and Prime Minister Theresa May has written for London’s Evening Standard newspaper on the importance of event.
Beth sydd gan Arlywydd UDA, Abraham Lincoln, Prif Weinidogion y DU, Winston Churchill a David Lloyd George, 3ydd Is-iarll Palmerston ac Arlywydd De Affrica, Nelson Mandela i gyd yn gyffredin? Mae cerfluniau i gofio am bob un ohonynt ar Sgwâr y Senedd yn Llundain, y tu allan i Balas Westminster a ddoe, ymunodd Millicent Fawcett, arweinydd y swffragetiaid, â nhw pan ddadorchuddiwyd ei cherflun.
Millicent Fawcett yw’r ddynes gyntaf i gael cerflun i’w choffáu ar Sgwâr y Senedd yn Llundain ac ysgrifennodd y Prif Weinidog Theresa May am bwysigrwydd y digwyddiad ym mhapur newydd Evening Standard Llundain.
London’s newest statue salutes Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett - a great champion of women’s equality, writes Theresa May:
On July 17, 1869, in the Mayfair building that is now home to the Sketch restaurant, the 22-year-old wife of a Brighton MP stood up to speak at a public meeting in London calling for the enfranchisement of women.
It was the first time Millicent Garrett Fawcett had delivered a speech on the subject. But, from her Suffolk childhood to her old age in Bloomsbury, there was rarely a moment when she could not be found advocating for equality and fairness.
For decade after decade, in the face of often fierce opposition, she travelled the country and the world, campaigning not just for the vote but on a whole range of issues.
As a teenager, she collected names for the first-ever pro-Suffrage petition even though she was too young to sign it herself. She was a tireless advocate for equal access to education, even helping to found a Cambridge college. She fought for the rights of sex workers, campaigned to protect children from exploitation and abuse and reported to Parliament on the treatment of civilians in the Boer War.
Both here in London and around the world, Dame Millicent, as she became, refused to remain silent in the face of injustice — and it is right and proper that tomorrow she will become the first woman to be commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square.
Gillian Wearing’s beautiful sculpture gives Dame Millicent a long-overdue and permanent place in the heart of London — a city that, almost a century after her death, is in many ways a living testament to her life’s work.
From the heads of the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade to the artistic director of the English National Ballet and the London chair of the Arts Council, this is a city in which women are no strangers to the top.
Last year’s general election saw a record number of women returned to Parliament, including nearly half of all London MPs. And although our capital city hasn’t yet had a female mayor, almost a third of London’s borough councils are currently led by women — a figure that’s roughly twice the national average.
Yet for all that progress, there is still a long way to go.
Women make up half the electorate, yet are still vastly outnumbered by men at every level of political life, from local councils up.
In the City, just seven of the FTSE-100 companies are led by a female CEO.
Across the country women are still routinely paid less than men and are frequently forced to deal with discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Together, these facts form a stark reminder that the struggle for equality did not end when the first women won the vote a century ago. It did not end when universal suffrage was achieved a decade later, when the Sex Discrimination Act was passed, or when our first female Prime Minister entered Downing Street.
Rather, it is a struggle that continues to this day. And it’s one in which we all have a role to play.
For my part, I’m proud of the changes the Government has secured over the past eight years, including measures to encourage more women into the workplace through help with childcare and introducing shared parental leave.
Earlier this year, we became one of the first governments in the world to make big companies reveal the difference between what they pay men and women — a powerful tool that will help to identify and close gender pay gaps.
In 2012 I set up the Women’s Business Council, which provides research on women’s position in the economy and advises on how to improve it and support women trying to get on.
And, first as Home Secretary and now as Prime Minister, I have personally put tackling domestic violence firmly on the agenda. I introduced laws criminalising coercive control, created domestic violence protection orders, and started a disclosure scheme that allows people to ask police whether their partner has a history of abuse offences.
The struggle for justice for women continues to this day. And it’s one in which we all have a role to play.
Our new Domestic Abuse Bill will build on this. Among other measures, it will create a statutory definition of domestic abuse that, for the first time, includes economic abuse alongside other non-physical abuse. The Bill will also create a domestic abuse commissioner to act as a national champion for victims, and allow the authorities to take quicker, more effective action to protect victims.
All these changes make a real difference to people’s daily lives. But if we are to ensure our democracy and our places of work are the best that they can be, we need to ensure they are filled with people from different backgrounds and communities, as well as both men and women.
After all, as Dame Millicent herself wrote: “Justice and freedom for women are things worth securing not only for their own sakes but for civilisation itself.”
In the late 1920s, Dame Millicent led efforts to restore the statue of Elizabeth I that stands outside Fleet Street’s church of St Dunstan-in-the-West. Commemorating a figure who showed the world that a “weak, feeble woman” could be just as strong a leader as any man, it is thought to be the oldest public statue in London.
From tomorrow, the capital’s newest statue will pay tribute to an equally remarkable individual. A woman who spent her entire adult life fighting for the ideal that politics, public life, indeed our whole society can only really work if there is place for everybody, if each of us — no matter who we are or where we’re from — is treated fairly and equitably.
The best way to honour Dame Millicent’s legacy is for all of us to continue the fight she led so many years ago — and I hope that the statue being unveiled tomorrow, standing in the heart of our capital and our democracy, will provide a constant reminder of the need to do so.