Courage calls to women of Slough

Published: 08 May 2018

Members of Slough Youth Parliament attended the unveiling of a statue commemorating the life of the suffragist, Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square on Tuesday 24 April.

Twelve female youth representatives were joined by six female volunteers from young people’s charity Aik Saath and a group from Slough’s Women’s Forum, following an invitation from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The statue was unveiled by local school children, followed by poetry readings and musical performances, as well as speeches from the statue’s campaigner Caroline Criado Perez OBE, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Prime Minister, Theresa May.

The bronze casting, by the Turner prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing, is the first statue of a woman to be placed in Parliament Square.

The statue of Millicent Fawcett joins 11 all-male statues including Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

Less than three per cent of statues in the UK are of historical, non-royal women.

It features her holding a banner reading "courage calls to courage everywhere" and was commissioned as part of this year's centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act - which gave some women over the age of 30 the vote.

Millicent Fawcett campaigned for women's right to vote during the early 20th Century and is seen as one of the most influential feminists of the past 100 years.

After the unveiling the group met with local Slough MP Tan Dhesi who answered questions and led a visit to Westminster Hall. The day ended with a reception at the Foreign Office.

Susuana Senghor, 15, from Westgate School, said: “I’m so inspired by Millicent Fawcett and what she has done for the feminist movement. She was really intelligent and very, very persistent, and determined to give women rights and I really love that.”

Alaa Fawaz, 16, member of UKYP for Slough, from Herschel Grammar School, said: “The atmosphere was quite amazing. It really made me feel powerful. It was inspirational and really did move me. It made me think this could be you – you could be bringing about change, just like this phenomenal woman. To have Millicent Fawcett’s statue facing parliament sends out such a great message to young women.”

Members of the group were interviewed by various media outlets, including BBC News and BBC London.

Rosie Khan, from the Slough Women’s Forum, added: “We were really privileged to be part of the unveiling of the statue of Millicent Fawcett. The ceremony was unique and included a reading of her letter capturing the struggle. Tea and sandwiches were well received at Whitehall where we rubbed shoulders with our politicians.”