‘Underrepresented’

After almost 200 years, a statue of a woman now stands in Britain’s Parliament Square

A statue of legendary suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett became the first likeness of a woman to be added to the famous promenade of statues in front of the Palace of Westminster in London on Tuesday, an addition that took almost 200 years to materialize, according to The New York Times. Surrounding Fawcett, who campaigned for more than six decades before women finally won the right to vote, are the statues of 11 other famous figures from history — all of them men, and some of whom directly opposed women’s suffrage. The unveiling was attended by British Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, among many others.

The movement that led to the erection of the groundbreaking statue was started two years ago, after feminist campaigner Caroline Criado Perez found herself in front of Parliament Square after going on a run on International Women’s Day. Still exhausted from her run, she set up a petition that soon garnered massive support — including that of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“Women are still woefully underrepresented in all areas of British cultural and political life, not least in its statues,” said Perez, during the formal unveiling of the statue. “With this statue of Millicent Fawcett, the first statue of a woman, and the first statue by a woman, in this iconic location, we’re making one hell of a start on changing that.”

The marquis event was hosted by BBC presenter Mishal Husain, and featured a reading from poet Theresa Lola, performances from the cast of Sylvia and the Suffragist Singers, an adaptation of Fawcett’s 1918 women’s suffrage victory speech, and an address from British Prime Minister Theresa May.

According to Sam Smethers, the chief executive of equality organization the Fawcett Society, it was only “fitting” that Fawcett’s statue was “gazing across the square at Winston Churchill, a man who opposed women’s suffrage.”

“A fairer society won’t just happen. It has to be by design,” she explained. “At the moment it is still designed for men. We have to make change happen.”

According to The Guardian, fewer than three percent of statues in Britain depict non-fictional, non-royal women. For more on the historic addition to Parliament Square, watch the video below.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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