Dame Millicent Garret Fawcett was an English political leader, activist, writer and feminsit icon.
She lead Britain’s largest women’s rights organisation, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) from 1897 until 1919, playing a key role in the successful campaign that led to women’s universal suffrage in 1928. Fawcett also tried to improve women’s higher education prospects by serving as a governor of Bedford College in London and a co-founder of Newnham College in Cambridge. In 2018, 100 years after the passing of the Representation of the People Act, Fawcett became the first woman to be commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square.
Millicent also co-founded the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) in 1904.
She wrote letters and pamphlets, organised petitions and chaired committees. She believed in peaceful campaigns, because she thought politicians would respect law-abiding women. She also created free groups so that working-class women could join. For the first time, women from different classes were drawn together with a common purpose, and by 1913 the NUWSS had 50,000 members.
She became a Dame in 1924 and, in 1953, her memory was preserved when the London Society for Women’s Suffrage became The Fawcett Society, a charity that still campaigns for women’s rights to this day.
Below we take a look at some of Fawcett’s most famous inspirational quotes:
“Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”
“No circumstance would prevent over-population so effectually as a general raising of the customary standard of comfort among the poorer classes. If they had accustomed themselves to a more comfortable style of living, they would use every effort not again to sink below it.”
“However benevolent men may be in their intentions, they cannot know what women want and what suits the necessities of women’s lives as well as women know these things themselves.”
“I can never feel that setting fire to houses and churches and litter boxes and destroying valuable pictures really helps to convince people that women ought to be enfranchised.”
“What draws men and women together is stronger than the brutality and tyranny which drive them apart.”
“I cannot say I became a suffragist. I always was one, from the time I was old enough to think at all about the principles of Representative Government.”
“I am a liberal because liberalism seems to mean faith in the people, confidence that they will manage their own affairs far better than those affairs are likely to be managed by others.”
“There are many excuses for the person who made the mistake of confounding money and wealth. Like many others, they took the sign for the thing signified.”
“A large part of the present anxiety to improve the education of girls and women is also due to the conviction that the political disabilities of women will not be maintained.”
“I can honestly say that if I was told at this moment that I was dying, not my first, not my second, but certainly my third thought would be that I should never see Italy again.”