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First Female MP Finally Acknowledged
Nov. 29, 2019
Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in parliament in 1919 and it is only now, 100 years later, that she is finally being honoured in her Devon constituency of Plymouth. The impressive campaign for this statue shows just how possible it is to redress the historic attitudes that choose ignore women's achievements. On their site, the organisers acknowledged that a common response to their efforts was “To be honest with you, we never thought you’d do it,” But they smashed their Crowdfunder target after 89 days when almost 1,000 people together had raised more than £125,000 but, "more than that, they had raised the spirit of a city and beyond." and this kind of community effort does produce more than a monument. This great effort has galvanised a whole community and Great Western Railway has named a train ‘Nancy Astor Express’ – one of GWR’s ‘First Great Westerners.
Theresa May, who unveiled the statue, said Astor had been forced to withstand the jeers and bawdy jokes of male colleagues – and the lack of female toilets – when she arrived in the Commons in 1919, but she had paved the way for future women MPs. Her perseverence has been reflected in the determination of the women of Plymouth to have a memorial of this ground-breaking politician.
Theresa May also said “We don’t have nearly enough monuments to the great women of our past. I’m pleased we’re starting to put that right.” So, it's good to have yet another prominent supporter for the cause of all the inVISIBLEwomen.