THE community of Govan had cause for celebration on International Women’s Day as the statue of Mary Barbour was finally unveiled.

Hundreds of people gathered at Govan Cross on Thursday to see the statue which is a tribute to the key figure in the 1915 Rent Strikes.

Designed by Andrew Brown, the new statue celebrates Mary in her element on the day in November 1915, when she led a 20-thousand-strong protest through the streets of Glasgow to the Sheriff Court.

The iconic figure campaigned to improve housing and conditions for working people during the 1915 Rent Strikes. The 1915 Rent Strikes exposed and protested against landlords who took advantage of the wartime economy to hike up rents for workers, evicting those who could not pay.

After the war started in 1914, thousands of workers flocked to Glasgow for jobs in the shipyards and munitions factories. Many property owners decided to raise rents for tenement flats as the demand for housing outstripped supply.

They believed women left behind by their husbands fighting overseas on in prisoner of war camps with be an easy touch. They were wrong - and instead fury erupted, resulting in the rent strike.

The city-wide rallies and demonstrations forced a change in the Government’s rent legislation.

A social pioneer, Mary was also elected as one of the first woman councillors for Glasgow in 1920, and appointed the first woman Bailie of the City of Glasgow in 1924.

That famous march was reenacted by local schoolchildren prior to the unveiling, which was attended by politicians, history enthusiasts and the local community.

Prior to the unveiling Former Labour MP Maria Fyfe, chairwoman of the Remember Mary Barbour Association, also gave a short speech.

She said: “We are here today to celebrate the achievements of Mary Barbour and it is very fitting that it should be on International Women’s Day because she was the woman who led thousands of other women to victory against the greedy landlords.”

Lord Provost Councillor Eva Bolander accepted the statue on behalf the city of Glasgow.

She said: “It is fantastic to be here and I am so glad the unveiling of the statue was arranged for today. It is such a poignant moment.

“There is so few women who have been manifested in statues. There is only three in Glasgow before this one, and I hope we can get many more.”

She added: “You need to have good role models. Having a good female role model in the centre of the community is excellent so people can see that you can do things.”

Transport minister Humza Yousaf, who is constituency MSP for the area, hopes the statue will inspire future generations to learn more about the local hero.

He said: “I have never been prouder of being the constituency MSP for this area than I am today. This is an inspirational woman being recognised on an inspirational day in a inspirational community.”

He added: “The is going to be an inspiration for all the generations but I hope it will inspire many young women and young boys to look past the statue and ask who Mary Barbour was?

“They can then read about her, and hear about the fantastic and phenomenal stance she took those many many decades ago.

“I think it is an inspiration for boys and girls growing up in Govan to see that one of their own went on to do the things that Mary Barbour did and then be recognised in this way.”

With musical performances, speeches and a real atmosphere of celebration, the moment prior to the unveiling brought a sense of community to Govan Cross.

The winner of the first Mary Barbour Award in 2016, Anna Stuart MBE stood with the crowds to celebrate the historical moment.

Anna, who founded the Cassiltoun Housing Association in 1984, said: “Having this statue in Govan is absolutely brilliant, it shows what woman can do.”

Southside Central Councillor Soryia Siddique hailed Mary Barbour as an inspiration to the Govan community.

She said: “Mary Barbour is such an inspiration. She made significant changes for the working classes and then she was the first woman to stand for council, and a Labour councillor as well.

“I just feel so proud and so emotional.”

She added: “This statue shows working class people what can be achieved and she left a great legacy.”

A fundraising target of £110,000 was achieved by the Remember Mary Barbour Association to fund the statue.

Planning permission for the statue to be erected close to the subway station in Govan Cross was granted by the city council earlier this year.