These are the infamous words Dr. Elsie Inglis was told when she offered her services to the War Office in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I. Despite decades of experience as a doctor and surgeon, Inglis was shunned by the War Office solely because she was a woman.
Inglis was a Scottish medical pioneer and a suffragist. More than a century after her death in 1917, celebrations of her legacy are underway in Edinburgh thanks to an organization named for its mission: “A Statue for Elsie Inglis.”
“She did exactly what they told her. She went home and sat still. “Then, she smoked a cigarette and thought, ‘What can I do to save the world?’”Alison Collington, a “Team Elsie” organizer, said. “Then she did that too. What better way to honor her deep-rooted impact than to celebrate her?”
Alison Collington, who said Inglis has been an inspiration to her, is one of the 35 women involved in the grassroots campaign to highlight the inequalities and oppression Inglis faced that “continue to parallel what professional women face today.”
From February 28 to March 13, the campaign has a series of events scheduled in Edinburgh to raise funds. These events include tea talks in the city chambers, exhibitions of Inglis’ memorabilia at St. Giles’ Cathedral and walking tours highlighting places connected to Inglis.
The campaign’s goal? A statue for Elsie Inglis.
“It’s incredible that Edinburgh has more statues of animals than women,” Collington said. “We’re fighting for a statue of a woman who hasn’t received nearly enough recognition for everything she’s done, and our goal is to raise 50,000 pounds to fund this.”
Collington described the “dream” statue as a “large city statue of a woman walking and standing strong.”
“She’s a woman of the people, especially for working women who are still overlooked in their professions, and we want to show this,” Collington said. “It’s a hard-fought battle still that we can’t forget.”