Emma Watson and JK Rowling are urging the London mayor to place a statue of a suffragette outside Parliament.
Their names join a list of influential women and grassroots campaigners backing a movement to commemorate the fight for a woman’s right to vote. Led by feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez, the campaign has garnered over 60,000 signatures since it launched two months ago.
While on a jog with her dog through Parliament Square, Criado Perez noticed something amiss outside the home of British democracy: of 11 statues lining the square, every single one was male.
In a square that pays tribute to former leaders and champions of democratic freedom, from David Lloyd George to Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, the women who fought for the same freedoms are totally invisible.
“In two years’ time, it will be nearly 100 years since women won the argument that our sex does not render us incapable of participating in the running of our country,” Criado-Perez said in an article in the Telegraph. “Nearly a century has gone by, and yet Parliament Square continues to tell us that democracy is a man’s world. This needs to change.”
So she launched a petition, calling on the London mayor to put a statue of a suffragette in Parliament Square by 2018 to mark 100 years since women first gained the right to vote. Sacrificing their families, health and even lives to fight for female suffrage, the suffragettes deserve a place in democracy’s hall of fame.
And thousands of people agree. In addition to support from high-profile backers like Emma Watson and JK Rowling, the petition has been signed by actress Naomi Harris, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas and anti-FGM activist Nimko Ali.
Famous for leading the successful campaign to place Jane Austen on the ten-pound note in 2014, Criado-Perez’s latest drive for gender equality is sure to gain momentum.
Whether it’s Emmeline Pankhurst or Emily Wilding-Davison who ends up on the pedestal, this campaign is a powerful reminder of the women who fought for gender equality, and why their fight is not yet over.
Sign the petition here.