GENDER INEQUALITY ON THE STREET
“We live in a historically patriarchal society, and streets were named accordingly,” says Justine.
“Even the few streets that were named after women were never big boulevards or major roads. You’ll find women’s names on small backstreets or far from the city centre.”
The issue runs deeper than just street names, however.
“With such poor representation in the naming of streets, women continue to be rendered invisible in public spaces,” Justine explains.
“Historically, men held publicly acclaimed positions: in fields, in factories or in offices,” Justine says. “They were visible.
They were paid. Women, on the other hand, had to work in their homes. Unseen, unpaid. They were financially dependent on their husbands, fathers, brothers.”
“Even today, women who have managed to break the glass ceiling in the public sphere continue to face many types of harrassment,” she says. “And female domestic workers are still quite invisible to the public eye.”
The members of l’Escouade wanted to get people talking about these issues, so the 100Elles* project was born.
“We contacted historians at the University of Geneva, and together selected 100 women who meet the city’s criteria for street names,” Justine says. “The project involves writing detailed biographies of each woman. However, our research has shown us that history isn’t kind to minorities or women whose work was less valued, or even ignored, by society.”
“Most of the women we were able to research were wealthy white women. History has erased the others.”