The disparity between men and women honored by the London Blue Plaques scheme is so great that it will take 300 years at current rates to reach equality between the sexes, English Heritage has said, as it called on people to continue nominating more women Have done
Despite significant progress in recognizing more notable women from history in recent years, the charity’s curatorial director, Anna Avis, said the plan required many more diverse nominations to fully recognize the capital’s “extraordinarily rich history”. Will welcome
She was speaking ahead of the unveiling of the memorial plaque on Friday Sophia Dalip SinghAn exiled Indian princess and granddaughter of Queen Victoria who became an outspoken suffragette, infuriating royal family. It was set up on a building at Hampton Court Palace, where Singh was provided with the Grace and Grace Apartments by Victoria, and where she safely sold suffragette newsletters.
Singh was the daughter of Duleep Singh, the last Punjabi Maharaja, who was forced to sign over the Koh-i-Noor diamond as a child. Avis said that her story was a fascinating biography in itself, but that her story also “portrayed the vast social, economic, cultural revolution that has transformed women’s lives over the last 130 years”.
The disparity between the number of plaques to women and men clearly reflects the historical exclusion of women – there are currently over 990 plaques in London, of which around 85% commemorate men. Even if from now on only women were to be honored (a possibility that the emphasis would never be on English Heritage), it would take 50 years to reach numerical equality.
Avis said that some imbalance was inevitable given women’s place in history, and that it was not their intention to achieve equal numbers overall.
priority, she said, “was not rumored around in the 18th and 19th centuries [looking for women], although of course there are figures that are there”. Instead, she said, “I’m more interested in making sure that as time goes on, we’re capturing the female figures who are undoubtedly contributing to recent history.”
All applications, male and female, were considered equally, the charity insisted. Notable people only have to be dead for 20 years before being nominated for the scheme, which started in 1866 and is believed to be the oldest project of its kind in the world.
great-granddaughter of women’s rights activist and academic Helen Pankhurst, suffragette leader emmeline pankhurststated that the privilege of Singh’s relations was balanced by the fact that he had been dispossessed, and by the fact that on his mother’s side he was descended from a German merchant banker and a former enslaved Ethiopian woman.
“She is so interesting because of the relevance of that complex, rich personal identity today. I think his story resonates today in a very interesting way. But fundamentally she uses both that privilege and those vulnerabilities to try to make a difference.
An Indian princess with her connections was “PR gold dust” for the franchise, said Pankhurst, and played a major role in their campaign at critical moments. So why isn’t she better known? “I wonder if there were so many characters. Frankly, history does not know how to deal with the suffrage movement; because there are so many of them, it is easier to tell the story of only one leader.”
She echoed more diverse nominations for the blue plaque scheme. “It’s so frustrating that there are so many really interesting people in history that we’re not showing to the next generation. And we need to do that, because it’s part of valuing the past.” [a way to] Start changing the future.
Other campaigners for women’s rights with blue plaques in London include Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Caroline Norton. English Heritage has also recently identified the former headquarters of the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).