Osez le Féminisme

A feminist group, Osez le Féminisme, is calling attention to the city map’s big gender gap.

The women’s movement just got a bit literal in Paris. Yesterday locals and tourists navigating Ile de la Cité, the island in the Seine set smack in the center of the city, had to find their way via streets renamed for some of history’s leading ladies, courtesy of a French feminist group. The Local has the details:

The move was a stunt by outspoken French feminist organization Osez le Féminisme, members of which spent Tuesday evening covering around 60 of the real street signs with those only bearing women's names. The move was a protest against the fact that just 2.6 percent of the streets in the capital are named after notable women.

Osez le Féminisme chose a number of scientists, artists, and politicians for its new street names. A map outlining the changes shows the Rue Florence Arthaud, Pont Josephine Baker, the Boulevard Emilie du Châtelet, and of course the Quai de Nina Simone.

Osez le Féminisme

On its website, Osez le Féminisme writes (via Google Translate) that across France only 2 percent of streets are named for women, with 31 percent named for men and the rest neutral. The 2.6 percent of Parisian rues with female names reflect 166 womenmany of them wives or daughters of famous men. Osez le Féminisme claims only three of the city’s 302 subway stations are named for women, though the T3 tram names women at nine stations.

The group would like to see gender parity come to the street names of Paris by 2019, with a spokesperson telling The Local the bulk of the change should come from neutral streets. Paris has been out ahead of much of the world in terms of street policy—taking aim at car pollution, improving walkability, and making plans for more cycling. Maybe it can lead on street name equity, too.

About the Author

Eric Jaffe
Eric Jaffe

Eric Jaffe is the former New York bureau chief for CityLab. He is the author of A Curious Madness and The King's Best Highway.

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