Last week we had the pleasure of unveiling Millicent Fawcett's brooch at the Museum of London. After spending several years in a safety deposit box in Natwest bank, venturing around London in our CEO Sam Smethers' handbag and sitting neglected in a locked filing cabinet in our office in Vauxhall, we are delighted to have finally found it a permanent home!

Read on to learn more about the legacy of Millicent's brooch and see photos from the launch of our new Courage Calls fundraising programme.

The legacy of Millicent's brooch

Millicent Fawcett spent her life campaigning for women's suffrage and equal rights for women. She led the non-militant National Union of Women's Suffrage Society (NUWWS) from 1890 to 1919.

In January 1913 Millicent appealed to members of the NUWSS to show 'steadfastness and courage' in the face of their prolonged fight for the right to vote. In response, the London Society urged members nationwide to contribute funds to a gift to their inspirational leader.

The brooch, in the colours of the NUWSS, was presented to Millicent the following month as a symbol of members' commitment to continue the fight with 'undaunted courage'.

Millicent Fawcett's photograph and brooch on display at the Museum of London

Millicent regularly wore the brooch, often as a pendant, as you can see in her photo above. Today, it features on her statue in Parliament Square and is now owned by the Fawcett Society as we continue her legacy of fighting gender inequality at home, at work, and in public life.

Esua Jane Goldsmith, former Fawcett Chair (left) and Dame Jenni Murray OBE, Fawcett President, unveiling the brooch

We were glad to see that the brooch is in good company, surrounded by unique collections relating to the militant Suffragette campaign, which – though different in its violent approach – no doubt also required incredible courage.

Guests reading about the surrounding Suffragette collection

We'd like to say a huge thank you to Beverley Cook, Curator of Social and Working History at the Museum of London, for welcoming the brooch into its new home, sharing its context and historical importance with our guests, and allowing us to host our event at the museum.

Beverley Cook, Curator of Social & Working History at the Museum of London

If you weren't with us at the event last week, we highly recommend going to see the exhibition for yourself once the Coronavirus outbreak has subsided and the museum reopens.

The launch of Courage Continues

Given the brooch's historic significance, its unveiling also served as the launch of Courage Continues – our new philanthropic programme to help grow our impact and drive change for all women and girls. As part of this, we are offering supporters the opportunity to receive bespoke updates on our work and invitations to exclusive events, build a deeper relationship with Fawcett, add your voice to our movement, and network with fellow feminists.

The panel

Dame Jenni Murray OBE opened the evening with her reflections on her long-standing involvement with Fawcett and why our ongoing campaigning work on equal pay, equal power and smashing stereotypes is so important.

Dame Jenni Murray OBE, President of the Fawcett Society

Eswa Goldsmith, former Fawcett Chair, feminist activist strategist and prize-winning author of The Space Between Black and White spoke about the past, present and future of feminism. She encouraged us to think outside the box and dream big. What would our ideal feminist world look like?

Eswa Goldsmith, former Fawcett Chair

And our CEO, Sam Smethers, talked to us about the challenges and opportunities ahead and why we need your support. We're a small charity with a big impact but to achieve our ultimate goals we urgently need to increase – and diversify – our funding.

Sam Smethers, CEO of the Fawcett Society

Time to network

Of course, we also factored in plenty of time to enjoy a glass of wine, get to know new people and share ideas with fellow feminists - women and men, young and old.

Guests chatting

We really enjoyed this opportunity to spend time with our members and supporters, and appreciate it all the more now that the Coronavirus outbreak is limiting public gatherings and putting all future events on hold.

Fawcett Trustee Caroline Bernard speaking with guests

In particular, we were delighted to have special guest Carrie Gracie with us on the night, who generously donated the £300,000 from her BBC equal pay claim to fund our Equal Pay Advice Service - offering low-income women free legal advice.

Fawcett CEO Sam Smethers and Carrie Gracie, BBC journalist and equal pay claimant

And throughout the evening we were encouraging donations to help grow our impact and drive change for all women and girls. We are really grateful to everyone who felt able to give something on the night, however small or large. Every donation makes a difference, so thank you.

Guests generously donating to our work via our one-tap device

Thank you to everyone who made this wonderful evening possible — the Museum of London, our speakers and all our wonderful guests.

If you'd like to come to future events like this and join our Courage Continues programme we'd love to hear from you.

Just get in touch with Manuela at [email protected].

Photo credit: Pasco Photography/Fawcett Society