I jave nothing but admiration for he Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) militant organisation campaign for Women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom and its campaign where it was best known for hunger strikes (and forced feeding), for breaking windows in prominent buildings, and for night-time arson of unoccupied houses and churches.
But that does not mean the exclusion of main suffrage campaign including
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett GBE (11 June 1847 â€“ 5 August 1929) s a British intellectual, political leader, activist and writer.
A suffragist (rather than a suffragette), Fawcett took a moderate line, but was a tireless campaigner. She concentrated much of her energy on the struggle to improve women’s opportunities for higher education, was a governor of Bedford College, London (now Royal Holloway) and in 1875 co-founded Newnham College, Cambridge. She became president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), a position she held from 1897 until 1919.
Fawcett is considered to be instrumental in gaining the vote for 8.5 million British women over 30 years old in 1918 (as occurred with the Representation of the People Act 1918.)
The Fawcett Society continues to teach British women’s suffrage history to younger generations and inspire young girls and women to continue the fight for gender equality while also creating campaigns like the #FawcettFlatsFriday to make strides in lessening the gender equality gap in Fawcett’s name.
The Fawcett archives are held at The Women’s Library at the Library of the London School of Economics, ref 7MGF.
â€œA memorial inscription added to the monument to Henry Fawcett in Westminster Abbey in 1932 asserts that Fawcett ‘won citizenship for women‘“.
The blue plaque for Fawcett, which states, “Dame Millicent Garrett FAWCETT 1847-1929 pioneer of women’s suffrage lived and died here”, was erected in 1954 by London County Council at 2 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6DP, London Borough of Camden, where Fawcett lived for 45 years and died.]
On 6 February 2018, Fawcett was announced as the winner of the BBC Radio 4 poll for the most influential woman of the past 100 years.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 (which granted voting rights to some women over the age of 30), a statue of Millicent Fawcett by Gillian Wearing was erected in Parliament Square, London.
Yet arguably most looking at the coverage of the suffrage movement will come to the conclusion that only the militant campaign had any effect and there no point in a statue, if the majority only know of the movement led by Emmeline Pankhurst.
I do not agree with the argument some suffragists at the time made, and some mostly male historians since, that the militant suffragettes damaged their cause.
It highlighted it to the point it could not be ignored,
But as we look back at a monumental struggle for the rights of our fellow citizens it is all to easy to ignore the peaceful majority because the suffragettes provided a more interesting story.