Here’s a depressing stat for you: there are 902 blue plaques in London and only 13 percent of them are dedicated to women? Last year English Heritage launched an appeal for the public to nominate notable women to be honoured and, thankfully, a new plaque is being unveiled just in time for International Women’s Day.
The lady in question, Mary Macarthur, fought tirelessly for equal pay for women working in munitions factories during WWI. Imagine working 50 hours a week, from dawn until 11pm, hammering out chain links for a mere 25p. Sounds awful, right? These are the conditions Macarthur was campaigning against. She was a woman dedicated to her cause, even contracting diphtheria while investigating the sweatshops of the lacemaking industry.
In 1910 the Trades Board Act created a minimum wage. But Macarthur knew this wasn’t always enforced and, ever the canny marketing woman, made a film and published articles to highlight the terrible conditions the chainmakers continued to endure.
Also earmarked for a plaque are artist Francis Bacon, at his South Kensington home of 30 years, film star Charlie Chaplin at the Kennington flat he shared with his brother and the founder of the Women’s Voluntary Services, Lady Stella Reading, will be commemorated with a plaque at Westminster.
Macarthur’s plaque will be unveiled today at number 42 Woodstock Road in Golders Green, her final home. Check her out commanding a crowd in Trafalgar Square in the photo below.