The Fawcett Society's story begins with Millicent Fawcett, a suffragist and women's rights campaigner who made it her lifetime’s work to secure women the right to vote.
At the age of 19, she organised signatures for the first petition for women’s suffrage, though she was too young to sign it herself. She became President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (the NUWSS) from 1907-19. With 50,000 members it was the largest organisation agitating for female suffrage at the time. Her powerful and peaceful mass campaign was instrumental in securing the first extension of voting rights for women in 1918.
In 1913 she was awarded a brooch engraved with “For Steadfastness and Courage”, which The Fawcett Society still has today. Millicent Fawcett died in 1929, a year after women were finally given universal suffrage. Her work has continued ever since, with The London Society for Women’s Suffrage renamed as The Fawcett Society in her honour in 1953.
2018 marks 100 years since women first secured the right to vote, and Millicent Fawcett will be making history again. Thanks to a campaign led by Caroline Criado Perez, she is now the first woman commemorated with a statue in Parliament Square – a landmark moment for the wider suffrage movement, and for women everywhere.
The Fawcett Society has been campaigning for women's rights for over 150 years through impactful research and hard-hitting campaigns. Scroll through the timelines below to explore key dates marking progress in women's rights since 1866.