There is a petition to put a suffragette statue outside the Houses of Parliament

Emma Watson, Caitlin Moran and J.K. Rowling have already signed

The suffragettes are feminist heroines. Theirs was the first mass movement to petition for the equal representation of women, and some, famously, died for the cause. Most people know this story.

However, parliament today still feels like quite a masculine place. There are many practical approaches to remedying this the inequality – making life easier for working mothers, for example.

However, activist and journalist Caroline Criado-Perez is also concerned with the symbolism and visibility of feminist campaigners. She campaigned to put author Jane Austen on the £10 note, and now – after noticing that there are no statues of women in Westminster, versus four statues of historic male politicians – she has launched a petition to get a statue of suffragette in Parliament Square, outside the Houses of Parliament. See the petition here.

High-profile signatories include the journalist Caitlin Moran, Emma Watson, and J.K. Rowling. At the time of writing it has nearly 65,000 supporters; it’s aiming at 75,000.

“In two years time, it will be nearly 100 years since women won the argument that our sex does not render us incapable of participating in the running of our country,” Criado-Perez writes in today’s Telegraph. “Nearly a century has gone by, and yet Parliament Square continues to tell us that democracy is a man’s world. This needs to change — and now is the time to start working on that. The women who fought for our rights – the suffragettes – deserve to be commemorated in front of the building they were locked out of for centuries.”

She is petitioning the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to get a statue into Parliament Square by 2018. Signatories ask him to “take the first step in fulfilling [his] promise” to be a “proud feminist in City Hall”. 

The petition observes that “not a single one” of the eleven statues in Parliament Square is a woman, and points out that women are not only underrepresented professionally, but also “across all areas of our cultural life, from films, to the media, to our built environment”. Criado-Perez argues that this makes her feel “less qualified, less competent, less important. Less valued.”