The first ever statue of a woman to stand in London’s historic Parliament Square will be unveiled next year after a monument of suffragist Millicent Fawcett was given approved.
The bronze statue of Fawcett, who campaigned for decades for women’s rights, will be revealed in 2018 to coincide with the centenary of older, wealthy women being granted the vote in Britain.
The monument will also mark the first time a woman has erected a statue in the square, with Turner-Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing creating the piece.
“Proud feminist” Sadiq Khan, who applied for the planning permission from Westminster City Council, said the move was “long overdue”.
The Mayor of London said the monument was “one of the most momentous and significant statues of our time”.
He added: “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 will show Fawcett holding a placard which reads “courage calls to courage everywhere” - a phrase taken from a speech she gave after the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davidson at the Epsom Derby.
It will also pay tribute to the contributions of the other supporters involved in the struggle for universal suffrage by including their names along the statue’s plinth.
The monument will join the 11 statues already in Parliament Square, including those of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.
Sam Smethers of the gender equality charity the Fawcett Society said that statues of women should be found in all of Britain’s town squares and major cities.
“Who we commemorate and celebrate says a great deal about who and what we value,” she said.
“Monuments of women are largely invisible from our public spaces. This has to change.”