In April 2018 history was made by a statue of a woman – suffragist Millicent Fawcett – being unveiled in London’s iconic Parliament Square, joining the oldest gentlemen’s club (11 men and no women) in the country.
The statue, by Gillian Wearing, marks the anniversary of 100 years of women’s suffrage, when the first women got the vote after years of campaigning by suffragists and suffragettes. Unlike her male colleagues Millicent’s plinth displays images of others who were active in the fight for votes for women – acknowledging the collaborative effort.
From 7th until 11th March the WOW-Women of the World Festival took place at the Southbank Centre in London. Since 2010 the festival is organized around International Women’s Day in order to celebrate women and girls, their achievements, and to discuss the obstacles and difficulties they face. The festival evolved to a meeting place for feminists and feminist organisations. Artists, writers, politicians, comedians, activists and many more meet for discussions, talks, workshops in order to explore ways of reaching gender equality. Terri Bell Halliwell, founder of the initiative inVISIBLEwomen had a stand at the festival this year:
inVISIBLEwomen is a catalyst for gender equality in civic statues in the UK.
Between 22-26th February inVISIBLEwomen will take part in the Audacious Women Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, a festival with the aim to empower and encourage women to overcome personal, political and institutional barriers, and to celebrate the achievements of inspirational Scottish women.
There are 50 statues of men in the city. There are only 2 statues of women, one of whom is Queen Victoria the other a “mother and child”. Not much scope for role models for women there. In fact, in Edinburgh they have more civic statues of animals than of women. inVISIBLEwomen will be supporting the campaign for a statue of Elsie Inglis, suffragette and founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals.
Since International Women’s Day 2016 the campaign inVISIBLEwomen started by Terri Bell Halliwell in the UK is calling for more plinths for women in the UK. And this is not before time, given that the 85% of civic statues that are of men and arguably form the UK’s oldest subliminal ad-campaign for the patriarchy.
Terri Bell-Halliwell writes about the latest progress:
Now one and a half years later aviator Amy Johnson’s words “believe nothing to be impossible” begin to ring true; we are witnessing a change in attitudes to civic statues.
There is a quiet, persistent power in a civic statue.