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Feminisation of street names: round three

Following the official name changes applied in 2021 and 2022, the City of Geneva is maintaining its commitment to a more equal gender representation in public places. In June, it will submit a new application to the Cantonal Nomenclature Commission (CCN) to rechristen another 16 street and place names in the city.

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Féminisation noms de rue

Since 2021, a total of 20 streets and sites have been renamed within the City of Geneva.

This procedure is in line with the municipal strategy of promoting gender equality and reflects the desire to highlight the contributions of women – all too often still ignored – to local history and to make public spaces around the city more egalitarian.

In preparation for submitting the application to the CCN in June 2023, the Administrative Council has approved a new series of proposals identified by a working group made up of female historians and representatives of both the canton and the municipality. 

16 new proposals to raise the visibility of women in public spaces

Of the 16 proposals put forward today, 15 highlight the wide-ranging paths followed by these women who, at different times, have left their mark on the history of Geneva. Sportsmen and women, writers, artists, scientists, doctors, teachers, defenders of human rights, resistance fighters or victims of the Holocaust, they meet all the criteria for having a street named after them and deserve this official recognition. The latest proposal is intended to be more collective and pays tribute to a key date in the fight for equality in both Geneva and Switzerland: 14 June.

The choice of street and place names identified for a change in name – or in 2 cases an entirely new name – reflects the desire to eliminate repetitions, the need to clarify the name of some streets or sections of streets in the city or the historic coherence with the careers of the women selected.

By continuing this process, as Alfonso Gomez, Administrative Councillor responsible for equality, explains, “The City of Geneva is keen to continue gradually increasing female representation in public spaces and to acknowledge the fact that the women of Geneva are citizens in their own right and role models who should inspire future generations.” 

A consultation phase before the application is examined by the Canton

The people and companies affected by the potential name changes are being informed of the current procedure by post, and have the opportunity to express their opinion until the middle of June.

The application, including the different proposals and results of the consultation phase, will be submitted to the CCN by the end of June 2023. After studying the proposals, the CCN will publish an initial decision intended for the State Council, which will take the final decision.

If the municipality’s proposals are approved, the Council will, in due course, provide the people and companies concerned with all the information necessary to facilitate the transition.

The genesis of the project 

By way of reminder, the 100Elles* project (www.100elles.ch) took to the streets of the city in 2019. Thanks to the commitment of female historians from the University of Geneva and members of the L’Escouade association, 100 biographies have been drafted of women who died more than ten years ago and who left their mark on the history of Geneva and/or Switzerland – the two criteria set by the Cantonal Nomenclature Commission (CCN) for naming streets. 100 plaques were then produced and put up in the streets of Geneva beneath the official street names. The project was accompanied by a series of publicity events and the publication of a collection of the biographies, striking a deep chord.

Among the reactions that followed, motion M-2536 was submitted to the Grand Council before being accepted in June 2019. This calls on the State Council to work with the municipalities to rename, within a period of three years, at least 100 major streets and squares after female figures who have had an impact on the history of Geneva.

You can find more information at www.geneve.ch/zero-sexisme 

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Anne Bonvin Bonfanti

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Article modifié le 17.08.2023 à 10:40