Denmark to fix gender imbalance in Copenhagen statues – where women are outnumbered by mythical creatures

In the capital there are five times more representaions of fantastical creatures than women

Natalie Wilson
Friday 08 March 2024 10:56 GMT
The famed Little Mermaid statue is one of four depicting merfolk
The famed Little Mermaid statue is one of four depicting merfolk (Getty Images)

Denmark is to address a nationwide lack of female statues as the Ministry of Culture reveals that the capital, Copenhagen, has more statues of mythical beasts than of women.

According to the Danish government, less than 10 per cent of statues in public spaces are of women – that’s only 31 of 321 statues and busts in Danish cities.

The culture minister, Jakob Engel-Schmidt, has pledged 50 million Danish kroner (£5.7m) to rectifying the gender imbalance and representing more Danish women in public art.

“The numbers almost speak for themselves,” said Engel-Schmidt.

There are currently only five named statues of women in Copenhagen out of 101 statues, while 26 are dedicated to animals and 70 celebrate men.

Engel-Schmidt said: “In Copenhagen, there are more statues of fairy animals than women. This is absolutely insane.

“Is it really the mirror image the next generation should grow up in? Especially considering how many crucial achievements in society are due to women.”

The Ministry of Culture and the new committee of experts intend to map which women have been “overlooked in the public space” as inspiration for future projects addressing “historical inequality in urban space”.

Engel-Schmidt appealed to Twitter/X for statue proposals: “Will the next generation really grow up in cities with more statues of mythical beasts and horses than of women? No!

“Therefore, I would like to ask a team of experts to point out exactly which women deserve to be redressed in the landscape. But please help with some input here. Who are we missing and where?”

Recently, statues have been built in the country to commemorate actress Betty Nansen and writer Lise Nørgaard, who died in 2023.

The culture minister has suggested that pastry chef Karen Volf; Nielsine Nielsen, Denmark’s first female physician; and Bodil Begtrup, the country’s first female ambassador, could be memorialised by the new committee.

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