Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

A group is fighting for more streets in Amsterdam to be named after women 

Nightview of the Magere Brug, the skinny bridge,the most famous bridge in Amsterdam April 22, 2013. The Royal celebrations in the Netherlands this week put the country and the capital Amsterdam on front pages and television screens around the world with an orange splash. There's plenty to see and do in 48 hours in this compact city, where the world-famous Rijksmuseum only recently reopened after an extensive renovation. Picture taken April 22, 2013. To match story TRAVEL-AMSTERDAM/   REUTERS/Michael Kooren (NETHERLANDS - Tags: TRAVEL)

Nearly 90% of the streets are named after men. Image: REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Sonia Elks
Journalist, Reuters
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Gender Inequality

From Beyonce Boulevard to Ada Lovelace Lane, a feminist group is rewriting the map of Amsterdam after discovering that nearly 90 percent of the city's streets are named after men.

The group this week began a guerrilla art project following research by a Dutch news website, De Correspondent, which showed women were heavily outnumbered in roads and squares honouring historical figures.

They have made several dawn trips to paste up signs suggesting female alternatives, ranging from women's advocate Mary Wollstonecraft to 17th century painter Judith Leyster, U.S. pop icon Beyonce to Lovelace, who was a British mathematician.

Bregje Hofstede, one of the project's founders, said they hoped to challenge everyday sexism that sees women written out from history.

"If you are growing up and you only ever see male names represented and honoured in this way, never female names, subconsciously you get this idea that as a man you would be much more likely to achieve something," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Amsterdam.

"We want to raise consciousness and we also want to inspire the people who make these decisions in future."

Hofstede said research into other major Dutch cities had found similar gender discrepancies in their street names.

The group is encouraging supporters to contact local authorities to push for more public spaces to commemorate women.

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