After unveiling the first female statue in Parliament Square earlier this year, the Prime Minister has come out in support of the campaign to raise a statue of Nancy Astor – the first female MP to take her seat – to honour the 100th anniversary of her election next year. The Prime Minister hopes it will “inspire new generations of women and girls to play their full part in our democracy“.
Lady Nancy Astor was elected as the MP for Plymouth Sutton in 1919 and was the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons, remaining as the MP until 1945. Constance Markievicz, although the first female MP and elected in 1918, did not take her seat.
“As the first woman to take her seat in Parliament, Nancy Astor
paved the way for the many – but still too few – women who have followed in her footsteps over the last hundred years.
As she said in her maiden speech, her fellow MPs ‘should not be frightened of what Plymouth sends out into the world’ – indeed, Plymouth and the whole UK should be proud of the great strides Nancy Astor made for equality and representation. I am proud to serve as the UK’s second female Prime Minister in a Parliament with more female MPs than ever before. But I want that number to continue to grow – so I am proud to support this initiative to mark the centenary of Nancy Astor’s election with a statue, and hope it will inspire new generations of women and girls to play their full part in our democracy.” – Theresa May
The campaign is “cross-party, cross-organisational” supported by Plymouth City Council, the Real Ideas Organisation, Bowater Communications, The University of Reading and chaired by Luke Pollard, Plymouth Sutton MP. It officially launched today with its crowdfunder, with a target of £120,000, to raise the statue for next November. A competition is being launched to design the statue, which the campaign envisions will be a “superb piece of public art“, intended to be unveiled in the constituency she won a century ago.
In her remarks, the Prime Minister pointed out how Astor has “paved the way for the many – but still too few – women who have followed in her footsteps“. Since 1918, a total of 419 female MPs have been elected, with the current parliament containing a record number of 209. Women now make up a third of the House of Commons. Progress has certainly been made since Nancy Astor took her seat, but we still have a way to go – even with two female Prime Ministers – to achieve an equal split in Parliament.