Happy Birthday Millicent Fawcett!
Today marks the 171st anniversary of Suffragist and women's rights campaigner Millicent Fawcett who made it her lifetime’s work to secure women the right to vote.
Millicent Fawcett was an advocate for peaceful protest, using non-violent demonstrations and petitions to MPs. The suffragist believed that by demonstrating women were intelligent, law-abiding citizens, they would be seen to be responsible enough to participate fully in politics. In 1913, Ms Fawcett made a speech, in which she said "Courage calls to courage everywhere", in response to Emily Davison throwing herself under King George V's horse at Epsom. Ms Davidson’s act was in a bid to draw attention to the increase of awareness for women’s rights in the UK. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed, which allowed some women to vote in the UK. To be allowed to vote you had to be over 30 years old and hold £5 of property, or have a husband who did. In 1928, voting rights were extended to all women over 21. This was in line with men. Eighty-one year old Ms Fawcett watched on in the public gallery of the House of Commons as the bill was passed. (express.co.uk)
Sadly she died one year later in 1929.
A statue unveiled in April – the first statue of a woman erected in Parliament Square – pays tribute to the impact of her life’s work fighting for equality and includes her famous quote “Courage calls for courage everywhere”.
The Fawcett Society, named in her honour, continues to fight for gender equality. In February this year, Fawcett won a BBC Radio 4 poll for the most influential woman of the past 100 years.
2018 marks 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed the first women, and all men, to vote for the first time.