Remembering struggles past and present
July is an important month in the Fawcett calendar. It’s when Fawcett members come together to commemorate the woman who has given her name to the Society: Millicent Garrett Fawcett (pictured above).
Millicent Fawcett was part of the feminist activity that began in 1866 with the first petition to Parliament for female suffrage. From 1907 she led the non-militant wing of the campaign to give women the vote. Partial voting rights came in 1918 and the full franchise in 1928. It was a protracted struggle but happily she lived long enough to see women given the full right to vote on 2 July 1928.
For me, it’s an important date and Millicent is an important woman. There’s so much to admire in her and those early suffragists: their tenacity, their commitment, their belief in non-militant tactics. Their perseverance and readiness for hard slog are still needed today.
For many years Fawcett has commemorated Millicent at a ceremony held usually in Westminster Abbey at the memorial to Millicent and her husband Henry. In 2008, Fawcett asked the South London Fawcett Group, one of the local London branches, to arrange the event and we have done so ever since.
Somehow I found myself setting up the contacts, while other members have publicised the ceremony, ordered the wreath that is always laid or organised a meal afterwards. It’s an occasion to meet our own local group members and other Fawcett people. Personally it’s a moment to reflect on all those who laboured so hard and endured so many setbacks and opprobrium to secure women the vote and a time to enjoy the sense of solidarity with like-minded people.
The struggle to secure equality and justice for women continues. It was, and still is, hard work. Millicent was committed to the grind and never gave up. It’s only right we should remember her at her memorial in Westminster Abbey. Join us there on 2 July.
The event takes place at 6pm on Thursday 2 July 2015 in St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey. More details
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