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Woman statues: what is the big deal?

by Catherine Slattery
13 April 2017

Catherine Slattery, solicitor at Irwin Mitchell and Women Lawyers Division committee member, talks about the new Emmeline Pankhurst statue to be installed in Manchester city centre.

I have often wondered where all the women are. We have a female prime minister and women have been on the roll for almost 100 years but where are they? For once, I am not talking about partner meetings, but women being revered and remembered in brass and ceramic. 

This week it was announced that the judge’s choice for a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst to be installed in Manchester city centre is the design by Hazel Reeves. Somehow Manchester’s daughter has never been immortalised in this way, until now. The Manchester Statue Project’s purpose is to celebrate the role of women of Manchester. Only one of the 17 statues in the city centre is of a woman (Queen Victoria).

Only a few days before that announcement, it was confirmed that a statue of Millicent Fawcett is to be placed in Parliament Square. This will be the first statue of a woman to be unveiled in the square, despite there being 11 statues in the square already.  

As a solicitor working in Sheffield, I can proudly say the city is leading by example. Pride of place outside city hall is the beautiful bronze Women of Steel showcasing the dedication of the women of Sheffield working in the factories and other locations during both World Wars. 

We are making positive strides to recognise the contribution of women in concrete ways. I hope that in the future, it won’t be necessary to count the women statues because there will be so many to choose from.