We took the Heritage project volunteers to London to see the new suffragette statue in Parliament Square and then a guided tour around the Women’s Library, which had its own suffrage exhibition.
It was one of the hottest days so far and whilst glorious, the walk from Victoria to Parliament Square and then to the Women’s Library challenged even the hardiest of walkers!
The Women’s Library was like entering a cave of wonders: full of light and air with centuries of records about women, including some of those we had researched for our project. What struck us was that until the point that this library was established, women’s role in society was deemed not worthy to record in a systemised fashion. There was a wealth of information which excited our own readers and to hold the passport of Elsie Bowerman in our hands, or the letters from and to Edith Nesbitt was a real treat.
Perhaps though, the most significant take-away from the day was our encounter at the statue of Millicent Fawcett. Whilst we were gathered around looking at the statue and the photographs around the plinth, one of our party started a conversation with two other women who had had their photograph taken at her feet. They were from America and were equal rights workers for low paid women. We talked about our various roles, the issues we were dealing with and the commonalities of women’s barriers. We had made our own individual pilgrimages but it turned out for a common cause.
Millicent then was not only the rallying point for women of her generation, but now she is the rallying point for women of our era and those who come after us. Truly inspirational.