As you might have already heard, this year marks the centenary of the first women in the UK winning the right to vote.
It’s been a year of women’s marches, statue unveilings, celebration, and honouring those powerful individuals who laid the foundations for feminism today.
And now, as 2018 draws to a close, feminist murals are appearing all over London in celebration of inspirational women the world over.
The project is the creation of Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists
Don’t Wear Pink, and Alice Wroe, founder of feminist art organisation Herstory — both of whom use art to further the political goals of the feminist movement.
WE PAINTED THE TOWN FEMINIST! On the anniversary of 100 years since (some) women ACTUALLY VOTED for the first time in the UK our amazing #feministsdontwearpink team stuck 50 incredible women from Herstory around London. Thank you to our incredible contributor @alice_wroe for creating @herstory_uk and guiding us on this amazing adventure. Check out my story for more peaks and PLEASE send me a picture if you spot one of our ladies before they get covered in graffiti! (Incredible pink coat from @cabbages_and_roses 🌹)
It’s a huge project, with 50 artworks scattered all across the capital city; many in east London, but also in Camden, Clapham, Elephant and Castle, Finsbury Park, and elsewhere.
“We wanted to include a mix of feminist icons and women who should be feminist icons but whose stories are less well known,” Curtis told the Independent.
“Women like Elizabeth I, [abolitionist and women’s rights activist] Sojourner Truth, [suffragette leader] Emmeline Pankhurst, and [nurse and suffragette] Sophia Duleep Singh overcame oppression at a time when everything in the world stood against women being powerful, and we owe so much to them,” she continued.
Malala Yousafzai and activist and Ms. magazine co-founder Gloria Steinem are also among the women featured in the artworks, along with writer and activist bell hooks, philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, writer and activist Audre Lorde, and writer Virginia Woolf.
What a day! Amazing to walk around London with @scarcurtis @feminists @maurawilding for @penguinbooks visiting all of the sheroes of #herstory that have been pasted up. If your in London go find one! Learn about that woman - share her story with those you know. #womenshistory
The artworks are striking, painted in black and white but with a single pink item of clothing or accessory, as an homage to Curtis’ book — published in partnership with the UN’s Girl Up, which works to empower girls and women globally in getting into leadership positions.
According to Curtis, she was inspired by the lack of women honoured in public places across the UK. While there are 828 statues of important people in Britain, she told the Independent, just 80 of these are named women.
“It’s so important that women and girls get to see themselves reflected in positions of power and honour, and that was one of the main reasons we wanted to do this project,” Curtis added.
The first women in the UK — propertied women over 30 — were able to vote for the first time in a general election in 1918, after they were granted the right to vote by the Representation of the People Act 1918.
Women do whatever the hell they want and this includes being feminine or not. Wearing heels and lipstick or not. Being a scientist, a politician, lawyer, housewife, business woman, cashier, artist or athlete. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage in the UK, a campaign in rememberance of feminists was launched. #feministsdontwearpink #herstory #youngzontaluxbg
“For me, practising women’s history is a political act,” Wroe told Refinery29. “My project is guided by the maxim: ‘If you can’t see it, how can you be it?’ I believe there’s a profound link between looking back and seeing the women who have come before and looking forward into our own feminist futures.”
Wroe added: “There’s a strong feminist history of changing public spaces to cause rupture, so this felt like an empowering and exciting way to continue it.”