Statue to honour women’s vote campaigner

Good company: The statue stands between those of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

Are statues a good idea? One hundred years after women won the right to vote, feminist hero Millicent Fawcett becomes the first woman ever honoured with a statue in Parliament Square.

What’s happening

Over 100 years ago, Parliament Square was often the site of protest — women’s rights campaigners regularly gathering to demand the right to vote. But last week, it was the scene of celebration as a statue depicting one of those pioneering women was unveiled. Her name: Millicent Fawcett.

Find out more

Fawcett was a leading Suffragists, a group who used peaceful protest to campaign for votes for women (a similar group called the Suffragettes used more direct, sometimes violent, tactics).

After years of struggle, Fawcett and her fellow protesters succeeded, and in 1918 women were allowed to vote for the first time. A century later, her statue celebrates their legacy.

However, some say the fight for equality is not over: there are far more statues of men in the UK overall, with just 3% of them depicting non-royal women.

Some of these statues can cause disputes too. For example, it has been argued that public statues of Winston Churchill should be taken down because of controversial things he did and said.

Are statues a good idea?

Some say…

Of course, some argue. They help preserve important parts of our history and are the ultimate way to honour great individuals. Statues also help communicate important ideas and values — giving us all inspirational examples to follow. In this case, Millicent Fawcett’s statue will encourage many people to fight against sexism.

Others think…

Not so fast, others respond. Even the most celebrated people lived complex lives, with bad parts mixed in with the good. Statues give an unrealistic impression of perfection and a warped view of history. Also, they make us think that progress is down to individuals, when in fact, it is the silent work of groups that really make the difference.

You Decide

  1. Can a statue change the world?

Activities

  1. Imagine that the council in your local area wants to erect a statue of a worthy person and it is asking for suggestions as to who it should be. Who would you suggest and why? It could be a historical individual, a celebrity or an admirable local person. Write a paragraph explaining the reasons behind your selection.

Some People Say...

“Statues and pictures and verse may be grand, but they are not the Life for which they stand.”

James Thomson

What do you think?

Word Watch

Pioneering
Coming up with new ideas or ways of doing something.
Unveiled
When a covering is removed from something.
Campaign
Working in an organised way to achieve a goal.
Legacy
Something that is preserved for future generations.
Depicting
Representing.
Controversial
Causing disagreement.
Warped
When something is changed from its true form.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.