Women are largely under-represented in street names in Geneva, even though they have largely contributed to the history of the canton and its communes. Until 2020, among the streets bearing the names of people, only 7% referred to women.
This observation, shared throughout the world, is not compatible with the current demands for equality. For women and their stories to be visible and (re)recognized today, they must be prominently featured in our collective stories as well as in their symbolic manifestations.
After having feminized 10 location names in 2020 and 10 more in 2022the City wanted to offer 16 additional place name changes, chosen by a multidisciplinary working group. After having communicated on this subject, in particular by sending a letter to the residents and businesses concerned and by organizing an information session, this summer she submitted a third file to the Cantonal Nomenclature Commission (CCN), to increase the number of women these additional place names.
This approach, which is part of the municipal action plan “Objective of zero sexism in my city”, follows the 100Elles* project (www.100elles.ch) and motion M-2536, accepted by the Grand Council in 2019 and requesting the change of name of 100 streets in the canton within three years.
A further step towards a more balanced representation
During its meeting of December 6, 2023, the Council of State validated the change of 9 names in the territory of the City of Geneva. The June 14 park, the date of the inclusion of the principle of equality in the Swiss Constitution and the Women’s Strike, will replace the Harry-MARC Park in Plainpalais. Rue de l’Ecole-de-Chimie, where the Collective, a project supported by the Maison des Femmes* Foundation, has taken up residence, will become rue Pearl-GROBET-SECRETAN. Place Sturm, which houses the Dance Pavilion, will be renamed in tribute to the dancer Beatriz Consuelo. The resistance fighter Noëlla Rouget will also have her place near the French Consulate and the War Memorial.
However, the street proposed to bear the name of Grisélidis Réal was not retained. The name of the writer and prostitute having previously been validated by the Council of State and in view of the requests from the Municipal Council and civil society in order to honor her, a new proposal will soon be made concerning her. The City welcomes the decision of the Council of State and welcomes this new step towards a more balanced representation of women and men in the streets of Geneva.
Individuals and companies affected by the name changes will be informed by mail of the rest of the process. The necessary information will be sent to them this winter to facilitate this transitionwhich will be effective by June 2024. The steps to be taken will be limited since most of the modifications will be done automatically and in groups (OCPM, SIG, La Poste, etc.). A “formerly” plaque will be affixed with the old name of the street under the new name, which will keep track of the change made and facilitate the transition.
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