June 7, 2010 by Lynette Long, Ph.D., President of EVE · Comments Off
EVE is not alone in its efforts to create gender parity. Barcelona wants more streets named after women.
Wanted: high achieving women to lend names to Barcelona streets | Barcelona city officials are in dire need of women. But not just any women – females who have made contributions to the arts, sciences or other fields, and have been dead for at least five years.
The reason? They want to give them their own street or plaza, to counter the abundance of masculine names found throughout the Catalonian capital. Just five out of every 100 streets and plazas in Barcelona are named after women, and most of these are religious figures.
In an effort to correct this gender inequality, the local Nomenclátor bureau, which is responsible for street and public-place designations, is looking for nominations.
It hasn’t been an easy task, because, according to officials, it has taken a long time for women in Barcelona to make their mark in professional fields. So the city wants the public to help them in their search.
Besides professional contributions, an important requirement is that the women must be connected to the city somehow. For a street or public place to be named after someone, the person must have been dead for at least five years, the only exception being those who have received the honorary key to the city – but that list includes few women.
On September 20, 2007 the Jerusalem Post published an article entitled, “In a sign of the times, more streets to be named after outstanding women.” Obviously, in its quest to name streets after women, EVE is not alone. The article in the Jerusalem Post highlights the recognition by government officials that it is important to acknowledge the achievements of women, and street names are a simple way to do it:
Each year brings with it more and more streets named after the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. But some time soon we might also be seeing the first road named after Rabin’s mother Rosa – and dozens of other women who so far have not gotten due recognition on Israel’s avenues. The Prime Minister’s Office is pushing a new plan to name more streets and public buildings after women. Former Netanya mayor Vered Swid, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s adviser for social affairs, recently asked mayors and heads of local councils, including Yona Yahav of Haifa, Yitzhak Meir-Halevi of Eilat, Ya’acov Turner of Beersheba and Ron Huldai of Tel Aviv-Jaffa to name more streets after women who initiated significant change and made important contributions to society. Swid told The Jerusalem Post that according to an informal survey she had conducted, only a few dozens of Tel Aviv’s more than 2,000 streets were named after women. The municipal leaders seemed receptive of the initiative and their cities’ committees for street names would take it into consideration, Swid said. “We must make sure that future generations will also know and remember who the women were who led a change, contributed and helped reshaping our world and reality,” she said. Among those whose names should be immortalized were women such as Rosa Rabin, who was a member of the Tel Aviv City Council; former MK Chyka Grossman-Orkin (1919-1996), who served as deputy Knesset speaker during the ’70s and ’80s and who fought against the Nazis in the Bialystok Ghetto; and Shoshana Parsitz (1892-1969), the first female MK to chair a permanent Knesset panel – the Education and Culture Committee – and an Israel Prize laureate for education. Former minister Shulamit Aloni told the Post she supported anything that promoted women’s social status and corrected inequality. “I think streets should be named after nice things like flowers, ideas or great artists, for example, and not be named as Holocaust Street or other terms that remind us of awful things,” Aloni said. “However, as long as men are being immortalized on street signs, women should be remembered in this way as well. Many women performed great deeds and dedicated their entire existence to achieving goals such as equal social rights and things like women’s right to vote, to influence events or to control their own lives and bodies.”
What I found especially touching about the article is a recognition of the contributions of not only women who initiated change but the mothers of male leaders. In our culture the contributions of mothers are seldom recognized. Little has been written about the “First Mothers” — mothers of our presidents — or their contribution to our country. Yet how our presidents were raised contributed to who they were. These women should be acknowledged, along with the other women who have made significant contributions to our country.
Street names are a fantastic way to honor women and one that is being pursued all over the world. It’s time for the United States to take notice and change some of our street names too.
April 17, 2010 by Suzanne Scoggins, Director of Women's History · Comments Off
Go, Ohio! That’s what I said when I saw this news item from the Akron Beacon Journal. The city has honored civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks with a street named after her — fittingly enough, right across from the municipal bus station:
Since Rosa Parks’ death in 2005, Ophelia Averitt, president of the Akron chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has urged city officials to honor the civil-rights leader.
Averitt got her wish Wednesday morning, when she and other city leaders dedicated Rosa Parks Drive, a road across from the bus terminal in downtown Akron.
”Isn’t this a great day?” Averitt asked after the street sign that will sit at Rosa Parks Drive and High Street was unveiled.
I agree. This is a wonderful gesture in so many ways: honoring a great civil rights leader, paying tribute to that chapter of American history, and also acknowledging the achievements of an outstanding American woman. Traditional naming patterns in our streets and buildings marginalize women, which is why we at EVE care so much about correcting that bias.
Congratulations to the City of Akron for this fine memorial. And congratulations, too, to Ophelia Averitt, the NAACP leader who brainstormed the project and shepherded it through. Her effort goes to show that we can make a difference.