Ahead of the centenary of the first women in the UK securing the right to vote, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has unveiled a major campaign to celebrate the role London played in the women’s suffrage campaign, to mark the progress that’s been made on women’s equality over the past 100 years and to drive gender equality across the capital.
Sadiq Khan’s new #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign will champion the fact that it is the achievements and contributions of women, from all walks of life, which make cities like London great. It will coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the vote, and was introduced thanks to the campaigning of suffragists and suffragettes.
The campaign slogan #BehindEveryGreatCity is a deliberate play on the feminist slogan used globally in the 60s and 70s, ‘Behind every great man stands a great woman’ and highlights that women don’t stand behind great men, but instead power great cities.
New data released by City Hall today reveals that, in London, three times more women than men say that their gender hinders their progression at work, while four times more men say their gender helps their progression in the workplace.
Recent data from the ONS showed that in the last 20 years, the gender pay gap in London has closed by only half a percent from 15.1 per cent, down to 14.6 per cent.
As a proud feminist, Sadiq Khan has pledged to tackle gender inequality in all its shapes and forms. The Mayor will use the centenary of the Representation of the People Act in 2018 to work with London’s many leading industries – from culture, education and business, to politics and public life – to support the continuing success of women and to push for greater gender equality for women from all backgrounds across the city.
Throughout 2018, the campaign will highlight London’s story in the history of the women’s suffrage and equality movement, celebrating significant milestones and achievements while identifying and tackling barriers to women fulfilling their potential. The campaign will be officially launched just before the New Year.
A range of events and celebrations will take place, kicking off with a year-long programme of works by exclusively women artists on London Underground.
For the first time ever, Art on the Underground, Transport for London’s public art programme, has commissioned work from an international selection of renowned women artists to mark the momentous year, including major commissions from British artists Heather Philipson at Gloucester Road station and Linder at Southwark station, the first in a new programme of works at Brixton station by Nigerian-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Tube Map covers by Romanian nonagenarian artist Geta Brătescu and French artist Marie Jacotey.
With almost six million journeys on London Underground each day, Art on the Underground will put women at the forefront of public space through this series of new commissions.
The statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, the first-ever monument of a woman to stand within the central London location, will also be unveiled next year. It is being created by Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing after being commissioned by the Mayor. This follows Caroline Criado-Perez’s successful campaign for a statue of a woman in Parliament Square.
Sadiq Khan announced plans for the #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign this morning as he visited Platanos College in Lambeth. The Mayor joined teenage girls and boys in a Fawcett Society workshop about the work of Millicent Fawcett and the suffragist movement. During the visit, the Mayor heard from the pupils about their hopes for gender equality in the capital.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Next year we mark a century since the first women got to vote in the UK – one of our country’s most pivotal moments. Milestones like this are a time to look back and mark the huge strides that have been made towards gender equality, and to celebrate the success of women in our great city.
“It is also a time to take stock of the huge inequalities women still face, almost 100 years on since women first voted and, more importantly, to take action. At City Hall, I have pledged to be a proud feminist and I am delighted to announce this campaign to say that Behind Every Great City is equality, opportunity and progress – regardless of your gender.
“Over the next year, and beyond, we will highlight how women of all ages, ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds make London the great city it is. More importantly, we will redouble our efforts in the fight for gender equality. During this momentous year and beyond, we must do all we can to remove any barriers to women’s success and to unlock their full potential.”
Since becoming Mayor, Sadiq Khan has published City Hall’s first-ever gender pay audit as well as gender pay audits for all of the Mayoral bodies including Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade. Following these audits, City Hall is implementing plans to reduce the gender pay gap– by increasing the availability of part-time and flexible-working options, aiding career progression, offering mentoring, career-support programmes and sponsorship for qualifications, piloting ‘no name’ application forms and training senior managers to ensure recruitment processes are as fair as possible. More than half of Sadiq’s Deputy Mayors are women, as are 10 of the 16 members of his Business Advisory Board.
Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, Justine Simons, said: “One hundred years ago women advocated, campaigned and fought bravely against a system that denied them their fundamental democratic rights. A century later, women are leading at every level of society in London – in public service, the arts, politics, science and in business – and are inspiring Londoners across our city to fulfil their potential.
“So much has been achieved over the past 100 years but there is still a long way to go. Together with organisations and industries across the capital, we need to spread the message that Behind Every Great City are women and girls from all walks of life, contributing hugely to the success of our capital.”
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said: “Supporting the Mayor’s fight for gender equality in all areas of society, Art on the Underground will use its series of 2018 commissions to reframe public space, to allow artists’ voices of diverse backgrounds and generations to underline the message that there is no single women’s voice in art – there are however many urgent voices that can challenge the city’s structures of male power.”
Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, Sam Smethers, said: “Gender inequality doesn’t only hold women back, it holds us all back. If women and girls in London were able to fulfil their potential everyone in London and across the UK would reap the benefits.
“We have to use this landmark anniversary in 2018 to remove the barriers to women’s political and economic participation once and for all. That is why our Future Fawcett programme is so important. We want to invest in the next generation and focus on how we can help them to drive change.”
Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said: “In 2018 the Met will be celebrating 100 years of women working in the service. It is safe to say policing has moved on considerably since the first woman joined our ranks. I am so proud to lead this fantastic organisation – in which women thrive in all areas and at all ranks.
“However, I am completely committed to making the Met the greatest place for everyone to work and we will be using this centenary as a platform to make sure we are doing all we can for the women in our service. Being an inclusive and collaborative service will only make how we serve the public better.
“Making the most of all the talent available to us is vital to our long-term success as a police service. London is a fantastic city. We should all work together to make it even more fantastic and inspiring to the rest of the world.”
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton said: “London Fire Brigade has the highest number of women firefighters of any fire and rescue service in the UK. That’s a long way from the handful of women serving when I joined 29 years ago, but we’ve still got a way to go. We’re fully Behind Every Great City and will be joining in throughout the year to highlight the professional roles that exist within the Brigade, and why there are no reasons at all for women not do be doing them.
“We’ll be continuing our campaign to fight outdated stereotypes by using the term firefighter instead of fireman, and seeking to inspire girls and young women to realise they can become the firefighters, fire engineers and fire safety practitioners of tomorrow.”
Harriet Harman MP said: “The Mayor’s plans for the suffrage centenary next year put a brilliant spotlight on London’s women, past, present and future – embracing women of all walks of life and in all London’s vibrant communities.”
Caroline Criado-Perez, writer and campaigner, said: “Winning the right for women to vote was a hard-won battle that took a lifetime. Millicent Fawcett started campaigning when she was 19; she led the NUWSS for nearly thirty years; and she was up in the Ladies Gallery to witness the Equal Franchise Act being passed in 1928, a year before she died.
“All the achievements and gains women have made over the past hundred years have been on the backs of the women like Millicent who gave their reputation, their health, sometimes even their lives, to women’s right to vote. Without that single achievement, the others could never have followed.
“I’m so proud to have played a role in the plans to celebrate these amazing women who made possible the freedoms that women enjoy today, and I can’t wait for the commemoration to begin.”
Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company and Member of the Mayor’s Business Advisory Board, said: “Closing the gender gap in London would add real value to the economy – an estimated £45 billion in GDP in 2025. Increasing the number of women in the workforce, in the most productive sectors, and in leadership roles could drive substantial growth and productivity.”
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet Founder and CEO, said: “London is one of the best places in the world to be a woman, but there’s still lots of progress to be made on issues like gender pay and the motherhood penalty, so we’re delighted to support the Mayor’s campaign and to join him in tipping our hats to the women who helped shape one of the world’s greatest cities.”
Margarida Da Silva, Head Girl at Platanos College: “London is a great city and it was made possible by great people like suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett. I feel very proud to be involved in this campaign launch to promote gender equality. The campaign and the work of the Fawcett Society is incredibly inspiring and has given me great insight. I look forward to visiting the new statue of Millicent Fawcett.
“Gender equality has come a long way but I hope I will be able to play a part in promoting this further in my future career.”
Sarah Wood, CEO of video ad tech company Unruly, Business Woman of the Year and Member of the Mayor’s Business Advisory Board, said: “A lot has been achieved over the last century since women won the right to vote. But this year’s headlines, from Weinstein to Westminster, and the fact women are three times more likely to say their gender hinders their career progression than men only highlights we still have some way to go.
“We need the next great leap for womankind to take place in boardrooms and businesses up and down the country. Women still face inequalities in the workplace every day and are sorely underrepresented in boardrooms and c-suites across London. This is a huge waste of potential, and one that this city simply cannot afford as we look down the barrel of Brexit.
“That’s why campaigns such as #BehindEveryGreatCity are so important, celebrating the incredible role women have played in the success of London and inspiring the next generation to make gender inequality a thing of the past.”