Feminists in France change Paris street names to celebrate inspirational women

Rather than walking down the Quai de la Tournelle, tourists found themselves on the Quai de Nina Simone

Roisin O'Connor
Thursday 27 August 2015 14:02
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A sign by French organisation Osez le Feminisme! which addresses the majority of street signs in Paris celebrating famous men and not women
A sign by French organisation Osez le Feminisme! which addresses the majority of street signs in Paris celebrating famous men and not women

A feminist group in France has been transforming the streets of Paris after noting that just 2.6 per cent are named after notable women.

Tourists on the Ile de la Cité got a surprise when they found that almost all of the street signs in central Paris had been changed overnight.

The group Osez le Féminisme!, which roughly translates as "dare to be a feminist", created their own version of the iconic blue plaques and stuck them over the "official" names.

Rather than walking down the Quai de la Tournelle near the Notre Dame, signs told passers-by that they were in fact on the Quai de Nina Simone. Other famous French figures such as record-holding sailor Florence Arthaud and pioneering lawyer Jeanne Chauvin were paid tribute to.

A sign by French organisation Osez le Feminisme! which celebrates the achievements of women

And it appears the idea could catch on in other countries.

"I think it's a good idea," a man on holiday from Colorado, US, told The Local. "It's a continuing effort of equality. Maybe some day there'll be an Avenue Hilary Clinton."

In a statement released on their website, Osez le Féminisme! said: "On the anniversary of 45 years of the Women's Liberation Movement, Osez le Féminisme! challenges Paris mayor calls on Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to address the need to celebrate exceptional, and too often overlooked, women, in public spaces."

"Street names attest to our history: they belong to a political choice, revealing the values that the city wishes to embody," they continued.

"While men honoured on street signs are legion, only 160 women - mostly wives or daughters of famous men - are noted in Paris. Yet our history is full of scientists, writers, activists, women politicians, artists, revolutionaries, that deserve the recognition of this country."

The group has asked that by 2019, as many women as men are honoured by having their names given to the streets of Paris.

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