The statue provides a leap forward but by no means a resting point. Addressing the hundreds who had come to pay tribute, Criado Perez spoke of the lack of female representation in public commemoration.
"Women are still woefully underrepresented in all areas of British cultural and political life, not least in its statues. When I counted all the statues in the UK's public monuments and statues database I found that there were more statues of men called John than there were of historical women….less than 3% of British statues feature a woman who actually existed."
Prime Minister Theresa May told the audience that she wouldn’t have been standing there as prime minister, no female MPs would have taken their seats in parliament and none of us would have the rights and protections we now enjoy "…were it not for one truly great woman, Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett…it is right and proper that today she takes her place at the heart of our democracy."
"She was a tireless advocate for equal access to education, pressuring universities to admit women on equal terms and establishing her own Cambridge college. The struggle to achieve votes for women was strong and arduous. Dame Millicent was there from the beginning and devoted her life to the cause."
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said that it was an historic day, and, "A moment only tempered by the fact that it really should have happened many decades ago. It's simply not right that this historic square has been a male-only zone for statues, because statues matter, they're a symbol of our values, a demonstration of the importance we place on hard battles won, both in peace and in war and an expression of who and what we choose to celebrate, so it's vital that we fix the imbalance and ensure more women are celebrated in our public spaces."
Fawcett's legacy now stands proudly in its right place, reminding all those who look on, of the struggle for equality, progress made and all that is left to be done.
A poem read at the ceremony, by award-winning poet Theresa Lola captured the gravity of the moment. "Millicent Fawcett will stand, poised, watching the world from Parliament Square, because a woman is powerful even in stillness, because a young girl will point at her and ask for a story to conjure up, because visibility is a portal for another woman to see and enter."
Book your place for 'Public commemoration and women's history' panel discussion featuring Caroline Criado Perez, May 1, 6pm