Visible Women

The inspiring reason why these London buildings are being renamed after suffragettes

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The announcement was made this morning by the Countess of Wessex. 

It will go down in history as a banner year for women.

It was on 6 February 1918 that women were, after years of agitation from the suffragettes, granted the right to vote provided they met certain criteria. (They had to be over the age of 30 and have some form of property ownership, which equated to about 8.5 million women in the UK at the time). Then, on 21 November, women gained the right to stand for election in the House of Commons.

To celebrate the centenary of these events, the London School of Economics are renaming three of their campus buildings after key figures in the suffragette movement.

These buildings will be renamed Pankhurst House, Fawcett House and Pethick-Lawrence House after activists Emmeline Pankhurst, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, three women who were key advocates for women’s right to vote. Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, visited the university to inaugurate the newly-renamed buildings today. 

The location of the renamed towers is also significant. 

These three buildings stand on the same site as the London headquarters of the Women Social and Political Union, the female-only organisation founded by Pankhurst and supported by Pethic-Lawrence that agitated for social change through demonstrations, marches and, ultimately, escalated to more dramatic forms of activism including hunger strikes and arson.

And it was inside some of the London School of Economics’ buildings that key meetings between suffragettes were held. It was here, for instance, that the iconic pamphlet Votes for Women was published. 

Currently, the university is hosting an exhibition titled Make a Stand, celebrating the key figures in the suffragette movement and the institution’s Women’s Library contains the foremost collection of archival documentation about the suffragettes, including a cache of documents belonging to Fawcett herself.

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“LSE is closely connected with the suffrage movement in many ways: with our history, our location, the extensive material of our library and our wide-ranging research into inequality,” the university’s pro-director for research professor Julia Black said in a statement

“We are delighted to be able to strengthen this connection further, while celebrating a landmark moment in gender equality and political history.”

Stylist’s Visible Women campaign aims to raise the profiles of women in politics – and inspire future generations to follow their lead. See more Visible Women stories here

Images: Getty

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