Timeout

It's official - Parliament Square is finally getting its first statue of a woman


World-famous Parliament Square will finally host a statue of a woman.

Work on the bronze of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett - who helped win the vote for women - will begin in the next few months.

When finished she will stand proudly beside 11 other statues of male dignitaries including Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.

The plans were first revealed in April but have formally been approved by Westminster Council tonight.

She tweeted tonight: "Just sinking in. International Women's Day 2016 I went for a run in Parliament Square. Noticed the lack of female statues. And today, we're getting one."

Millicent Fawcett died aged 82 in 1929 after a lifetime of fighting for women's rights.

She helped secure the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave the first votes to women - but only for those over 30 who met certain conditions.

Women were denied the voting rights enjoyed by men for another 10 years until a further Act in 1928.

The statue, which will be unveiled to mark the Act's centenary, will show Ms Fawcett holding a placard that declares "courage calls to courage everywhere".

The quote was from a speech she gave after fellow suffragette Emily Wilding Davison died after being hit by the King's horse at the Epsom Derby.

Ms Fawcett's original brooch will be copied in bronze as part of the statue, which will be created by Turner prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing from part of a £5million fund.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the statue was "long overdue", adding: "This will be one of the most momentous and significant statues of our time.

"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."

Earlier this year Theresa May suggested a Parliament Square statue of Margaret Thatcher should go ahead after it was blocked over fears it does not have the blessing of her family - and could be vandalised.

Backers had hoped the reported £300,000 memorial would join the likes of Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square.

The Public Memorials Appeal Trust saw their application derailed, with one objection saying the Tory leader's divisive legacy could leave the statue open to vandalism.

Yet Theresa May said: "There should be no suggestion that the threat of vandalism should stop a statue of Margaret Thatcher from being put up."

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said tonight: “Aged just 22 Millicent Fawcett gave her first speech on women’s suffrage and then campaigned relentlessly for nearly 50 years before the vote was finally given to women. I am proud that this beautifully designed statue of Fawcett in Parliament Square will inspire a new generation to champion her struggle for equality and women’s.