Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wollstonecraft Memorial Sends a Powerful and Vital Message

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wollstonecraft Memorial Sends a Powerful and Vital Message

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Watson

LAST International Women's Day a group of 80 women from politics, academia and public life called for the human-rights champion and trailblazer for gender equality, Mary Wollstonecraft, to be memorialised on Newington Green. This year I am proud to have organised a group of men, from Jeremy Corbyn to the actor Sam West, to echo their call.

Each time I look out of the windows of Parliament to the surrounding streets and squares I am reminded of history's bias towards men of wealth and power. Mary was a woman of little means and power yet she made a lasting mark on this country. Her childhood was marred by domestic violence and a struggle to make ends meet. As was the norm for girls at the time, she received very little formal education.

Despite this adversity Mary became one of the first women to make a living by the pen and her seminal work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, is now recognised as one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy and a key contribution to enlightenment thought. Newington Green, on the border between Islington and Hackney, has been chosen for a memorial because that is where she met and debated with many famous philosophers and politicians of the day, from Thomas Paine to John Adams, the second President of the United States. …

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