London Assembly’s Campaign To Redress Blue Plaque Gender Balance
Following the 100th anniversary of when women first voted, the London Assembly conducted a campaign to redress the gender balance of London’s Blue Plaques.
- Only 14 per cent of the capital’s Blue Plaques honour women.
- Of the 944 Blue Plaques – only 132 recognise the achievements of women.
Assembly Members urged Londoners to suggest 100 names of women who deserve the recognition of a Blue Plaque.
Women nominated who currently do not have a Blue Plaque include:
- Claudia Jones (equal rights campaigner and Caribbean Carnival organiser)
- Jayaben Desai (heroine of the Grunwick strike)
- Reina Lawrence (first female councillor elected in London)
- Emily Davison (suffragette, activist)
- Jill Dando (journalist)
The Assembly presented the list of 100 women to English Heritage – the purveyors of the Blue Plaque – at its International Women’s Day event.
The Assembly also called on English Heritage to review the rules which govern the scheme to make them less restrictive.
Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly said: “Our #BackthePlaque campaign has had a wonderful response and prompted some compelling conversations. The list of 100 nominations we received from Londoners is awe inspiring. Iconic Blue Plaques are an important way of recognising the contributions of those who lived in London, but the disparity between men and women is nothing to celebrate.
“We applaud English Heritage for the changes they have made to the diversity of the selection process and encourage them to keep pushing forward with modernising the systems and rules. Their commitment to inclusivity gives us hope that the process will become more and more relevant to Londoners as time goes on.
“We understand why many thought the work of Diana, Princess of Wales should be recognised – her landmine campaign and HIV/AIDS awareness work was truly global and made an enormous difference to many lives. The list of 100 contains a staggering range of inspirational women and we look forward to seeing their Blue Plaques dotted all over London.
“The London Assembly is proud of what woman have achieved over the past century and this is a fitting way to mark those achievements.”
Anna Eavis, Secretary of the English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel said: “Princess Diana is a very strong nomination for a blue plaque and one we will take to our next panel meeting.
“There are some other great suggestions on this list, some of whom are already on our radar. For instance, our panel has already decided to award plaques to the important suffragette Emily Davison, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth and the war heroine Noor Inayat Khan.
“English Heritage is committed to increasing the number of blue plaques to women and we’d like to thank the London Assembly for supporting us in this aim. Over the next few years, we’ll certainly be celebrating more and more women on the streets of London.
“For English Heritage, the link between the person and a surviving building is key: our scheme celebrates not only remarkable people but also the buildings they lived in. And we do ask that nominees have been dead for twenty years or more as this provides a valuable perspective on their significance. There are some people on this list for whom we need to wait a little while longer, but we can say with some confidence that their time will come.”