Today’s Google Doodle is in honour of Millicent Fawcett; the equal rights campaigner who today would celebrate her 171st birthday.
Millicent Fawcett although well known within feminist circles has reached a wider audience in recent months and is recognised for being the first woman to take her place alongside other famous and significant men in Parliament Square. Earlier this year a statue to the women’s rights campaigner was unveiled – the very first statue of a woman to appear in square to recognise the effort she made to achieve voting rights for women.
The unveiling of her statue was not only significant because she was the first woman to have her statue erected in Parliament Square, but it is also the place where many significant battles between the suffragettes and Police took place.
Millicent was not the only person in her family to strive for equal rights, her sister, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, also pushed boundaries in medicine and fought to be the first female Doctor in the UK.
Today the Fawcett Society, a leading women’s rights and equality charity, works to advance women’s equality. Continuing the legacy of Millicent, who aged just 19 collected over a thousand signatures on a petition to secure women the right to vote, the society fights sexism and gender inequality through its research and campaigns.
On Sunday thousands of women and girls marched through the streets around across cities in the UK wearing the colours of the suffragettes to mark the centenary of some women getting the vote.
This important moment in history was only made possible through the grit and determination of those like Millicent Fawcett and her contemporaries such as Emily Wilding Davison and of course the famous Pankhurst sisters whose lives were dedicated to ensuring women had the right to vote.
It emerged over the weekend that David Cameron will be teaming up with Kenneth Clarke this week to make the case for Britain’s continued membership of the EU.
In a speech ahead of next week’s G8 meeting of world leaders in Northern Ireland, Cameron is planning to say that the country faces a battle for its economic future, involving major domestic reforms and greater foreign ambition.
He’s planning to support Britain’s membership of the EU, describing it as part of a “desire to shape the world” by sitting at the “top table” of major international institutions. And he will urge the country to nurture a “sense of opportunity” that was “lacking for too long”.
Cameron’s staunch defence of Britain’s EU membership, a month after Michael Gove and Philip Hammond said they would vote to leave now, will be reinforced by Clarke who will warn that Britain will be “reduced to watching from the sidelines” if it leaves the EU.
The prime minister will indicate his sympathies lie with Clarke and not with his friend Gove when he outlines how Britain can improve its standing in the world.
The prime minister plans on saying: “Membership of these organisations is not national vanity – it is in our national interest. The fact is that it is in international institutions that many of the rules of the game are set on trade, tax and regulation. When a country like ours is affected profoundly by those rules, I want us to have a say on them.”
It’s hard not to feel that Cameron has let this issue completely run away from him within his own party. I agree with his assessment of the importance of continued membership of the EU, so I have to ask him why he and his party have put it in such jeopardy.
Last week there was much discussion of the state of gender equality as people marked the 100 year anniversary of the tragic death of Emily Wilding Davison. A lot of the discussion centered on our failure as a nation to properly venerate important and influential women from our past. In the Observer yesterday people wrote in with their observations about the lack of Blue Plaques to women, including the extraordinary revelation that the plaque on the house of Millicent Garrett Fawcett reads “Henry Fawcett … lived here with his wife and daughter, 1874-1884.”