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London to celebrate suffrage centenary

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suffrage centenary, sadiq khan, campaign, London, statue, artworks, A time to take stock of the huge inequalities women still face, and, more importantly, to take action.

Ahead of the centenary of the first women in the UK securing the right to vote, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has unveiled a major campaign to celebrate the role London played in the women’s suffrage campaign.

With it he aims to mark the progress that has been made on women’s equality over the past 100 years and to boost gender equality across the capital.

Sadiq Khan’s new #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign will champion the fact that it is the achievements and contributions of women, from all walks of life, not just men, which make cities like London great.

The campaign coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the vote – introduced thanks to the campaigning of suffragists and suffragettes.

The Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918 and gave women the vote provided they were aged over 30 and either they, or their husband, meet a property qualification.

The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act passed on 21 November 1918 allowed women to stand for Parliament.

Women voted in a general election for the first time on 14 December 1918: 8.5 million women were eligible to vote.

In 1928 the Equal Franchise Act was passed, giving women equal voting rights with men. All women aged over 21 were now permitted to vote in elections. Fifteen million women were eligible to do so.

And on 30 May 1929 women aged between 21 and 29 voted for the first time in a general election sometimes referred to as ‘the Flapper Election’.

The campaign slogan #BehindEveryGreatCity is a deliberate play on the feminist slogan used globally in the 1960s and 70s, ‘Behind every great man stands a great woman’ and highlights that women do not only or just stand behind great men, but also power great cities.

Sadiq Khan has pledged to tackle gender inequality in all its shapes and forms.

New data released by City Hall revealed that, in London, three times more women than men say that their gender hinders their progression at work, while four times more men say their gender helps their progression in the workplace.

Recent data from the ONS showed that in the last 20 years, the gender pay gap in London has closed by only half a percent from 15.1 per cent, and now stands at 14.6 per cent.

And in 2018 Khan intends to use the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act to work with London’s many leading industries – from culture, education and business, to politics and public life – to support the continuing success of women and to push for greater gender equality for women from all backgrounds throughout the city.

And during the year, the campaign will highlight London’s story in the history of the women’s suffrage and equality movement, celebrating significant milestones and achievements as well as identifying and tackling barriers to women fulfilling their potential.

The campaign will be officially launched just before the New Year.

A range of events and celebrations will take place, kicking off with a year-long programme of works by exclusively women artists being shown on London Underground.

‘Art on the Underground’, Transport for London’s public art programme, has commissioned work from an international selection of renowned women artists to mark the year.

These include major commissions from British artists Heather Phillipson at Gloucester Road station and Linder at Southwark station, the first in a new programme of works at Brixton station by Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Tube Map covers by Romanian nonagenarian  artist Geta Brătescu and French artist Marie Jacotey.

To see the full ‘Art on the Underground’ programme for 2018, click here.

And a statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett will also be unveiled in Parliament Square next year.

It is being created by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing after being commissioned by Sadiq Khan.

This follows Caroline Criado-Perez’s successful campaign for a statue of a woman in Parliament Square.

Criado-Perez said: “Winning the right for women to vote was a hard-won battle that took a lifetime.

“Millicent Fawcett started campaigning when she was 19; she led the NUWSS for nearly thirty years; and she was up in the Ladies Gallery to witness the Equal Franchise Act being passed in 1928, a year before she died.

“All the achievements and gains women have made over the past hundred years have been on the backs of the women like Millicent who gave their reputation, their health, sometimes even their lives, to women’s right to vote.

“Without that single achievement, the others could never have followed.

“I’m so proud to have played a role in the plans to celebrate these amazing women who made possible the freedoms that women enjoy today, and I can’t wait for the commemoration to begin.”

To find out more about plans for the Millicent Fawcett Statue in Parliament Square, click here.

And Khan said: “Next year we mark a century since the first women got to vote in the UK – one of our country’s most pivotal moments.

“Milestones like this are a time to look back and mark the huge strides that have been made towards gender equality, and to celebrate the success of women in our great city.

“It is also a time to take stock of the huge inequalities women still face, almost 100 years on since women first voted and, more importantly, to take action.

“At City Hall, I have pledged to be a proud feminist and I am delighted to announce this campaign to say that Behind Every Great City is equality, opportunity and progress – regardless of your gender.

“Over the next year, and beyond, we will highlight how women of all ages, ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds make London the great city it is.

“More importantly, we will redouble our efforts in the fight for gender equality.

“During this momentous year and beyond, we must do all we can to remove any barriers to women’s success and to unlock their full potential.”

More than half of Sadiq’s Deputy Mayors are women, as are 10 of the 16 members of his Business Advisory Board.

And since becoming Mayor, Sadiq Khan has published City Hall’s first-ever gender pay audit as well as gender pay audits for all of the Mayoral bodies including Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.

Following these audits, City Hall is implementing plans to reduce the gender pay gap – by increasing the availability of part-time and flexible-working options, aiding career progression, offering mentoring, career-support programmes and sponsorship for qualifications, piloting ‘no name’ application forms and training senior managers to ensure recruitment processes are as fair as possible.

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