Fawcett’s 150th Anniversary

Millicent - Hyde Park - July 1913

2016 marks the Fawcett Society’s 150th Anniversary. Since 1866, when Millicent Fawcett and other campaigners handed over their petition for women’s suffrage to Parliament, Fawcett have campaigned and researched tirelessly to make changes to women’s lives.

In 1866, women had few legal rights, could not vote in national elections, had no access to higher education, were subject to state endorsed violence from their husbands and were the property of men, usually their fathers or husbands. 150 years later we have seen our society transformed. Legislative, cultural and societal changes driven by brave women pioneers and campaigners have made the UK a dramatically more equal place for women.

Yet this change has not been inevitable. At every step women, and their male allies have fought for change. Behind each of these achievements has been a long list of individuals and organisations like the Fawcett Society campaigning, lobbying and mobilising to challenge and persuade decision makers.

Our anniversary year calls us to speed up the pace of change. We have achieved an enormous amount in the last 150 years, yet women and men are still not equal. Throughout 2016, whilst we celebrate our achievements in our anniversary year, we will also be concentrating on the key themes of Money, Power and Gender Norms and Stereotypes, which will underpin our campaigning and research for the year, as well as a programme of invigorating and exploitative events and a drive to appeal to new members and local groups.

Equality: it’s about time.


To celebrate the achievements of women in the last 150 years, throughout 2016 we’ll be sharing the achievements of 150 remarkable women – specifically, #150women who have achieved ‘firsts’ throughout history, on Twitter and here on our website. Follow the links below to find out more about these pioneering women, or search #150women on Twitter.

In August, we’re recognizing some Olympic firsts as well as US Women’s Equality Day and the MTV Music awards:

Jacqui Oatley/ First Female football commentator in the history of Match of the Day, her debt broadcast on 21 April 2007 for the Premier League. http://bbc.in/1VrBEKj #150women

Florence Arthaud/ First woman to win La Route du Rhum (1990), http://bit.ly/1SbbBti #150women

Margaret Maughan/ First Female Paralympic gold medal holder for Britain (1960), http://bbc.in/1TnRkQp #150women

Charlotte Cooper/ First Woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal, for Tennis (1900), http://bit.ly/1KaMyDN #150women

Katie Ormerod/First Female snowboarder to land a backside double cork 1080 (2014), only 16 years old. http://win.gs/1KaML9V #150women

Gertrude Ederle/ First woman to swim across the English Channel (1926), beating the world record as “Queen of the waves”. http://bit.ly/2053aEh #150women

Tatyana McFadden/First Female to win the four major marathons in the same year; Boston, Chicago, London & New York (2013). http://bit.ly/1nycsHJ #150women

Nadia Comăneci/ First Female Olympic Gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 (1976), http://bit.ly/1VrFCCR #150women

Amélie Mauresmo/ First woman to coach a top male tennis player (2014), Andy Murray. http://dailym.ai/1WNXVDs #150women
Liv Arnesen/ First woman to ski solo to the South Pole (1995), http://livarnesen.com/about/ #150women

Ann Bancroft/ First woman to reach the pole on foot and by dogsled (1968). http://bit.ly/1QDhRZh #150women

Hanna Reitsch/ First woman to fly a helicopter, a rocket plane, and a jet fighter (1930s). http://bit.ly/20553Ra #150women

Brenda Yule/ First woman to complete a quadrathlon, in swimming, running, kayaking and cycling (1983). http://bit.ly/20sMS4M #150women

Kay Cottee/ First woman to sail around the world solo (1988), in 189 days. http://bit.ly/1OPuI8c #150women

Danica Patrick/ First woman to win an Indy Car Race (2008) “I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” http://es.pn/1TnVXK3 #150women

Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky/ First woman to bicycle around the world (1895), http://bit.ly/1KFteta #150women

Penny Ann Early/ First Licensed female jockey in the US (1968) & First woman to play in a professional basketball league. http://trib.in/1PEvJ6x #150women

Joan Benoit/ First women’s Olympic Marathon winner (1984). http://bzfd.it/1PDCvJC #150women

Junko Tabei/ First woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest (1975). “We
were told we should be raising children instead,” . http://bit.ly/1Uqy5UH #150women

Sarah Attar/ First woman from Saudi Arabia to complete in track and field at the Olympics, http://bit.ly/1no2gAM #150women
Nova Peris/ First female Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal (1996), http://bzfd.it/1NAN3la #150women

Julie Welch/ First female Fleet Street Journalist to cover a game of football (1969), http://bit.ly/1TnYkNd #150women

Nicola Adams/ First woman to win Olympic gold medal for boxing (2012), http://bzfd.it/1NAN3la #150women

Michelle Janine Howard/ First African-American woman to achieve four star rank & the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy, http://bit.ly/1PAYP0b #150women
Charlotte Ray/ First African American woman lawyer in the U.S. & First woman admitted to the bar in the district of Columbia, http://abt.cm/1ZSICcs #150women

Suzi Quatro/ First female bass guitarist to become a major rocker. http://bit.ly/1no7dJU #150women

Goldie and the Gingerbreads/ First all-female band to sign to a major label, Decca (1963). http://bit.ly/20sVtnT #150women

Jo Stafford/ First female to top the charts in the US and UK, through her 1952 song “You Belong to Me”, http://ind.pn/1lSIRHi http://bit.ly/1OPD5jU #150women

Sequence/ First female group to release a rap record – “Funk You Up” (1979), http://bit.ly/1PjAnVl #150women



We have a great programme of feminist events this year, and we’ll also be sharing events from other organisations we recommend too. Visit our events page for the full listings or see below:


Until August 27th: Endless Endeavours. LSE Library exhibition of suffragist artifacts. LSE Library, free. More information on their website here.

Nov: The Annual Fawcett AGM, details coming soon.

Further resources

View our timeline of 150 years women’s rights here.

Read our report Sex Equality: State of the Nation 2016 here.