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‘Feminized’ signs installed at Geneva’s pedestrian crossings

On the 500 panels announcing the pedestrian crossings, all represented by a male silhouette, half will give way to panels representing women and lesbian couples.

Published: January 19, 2020, 8:08 am

    Geneva

    The city of Geneva, Switzerland, wants to be at the forefront of promoting equality between women and men. It is a progressive will for more parity and inclusion, which sometimes results in surprising initiatives.

    One of them, identified by HuffPost, will mean that 250 of the 500 traffic signs announcing a pedestrian crossing, represented as in all cities, by a male figure crossing the track, will be replaced.

    Instead, we will see the same panels, this time with female figures announcing various activities: active women, the elderly, pregnant or lesbian couples. In fact, the “female” road signs come in six versions, including a pregnant woman and a woman with African hair.

    Thanks to this collection of 250 new panels, available in six versions, the Swiss city hopes to promote diversity and “increase the visibility of women in the city” in order to “question the representations of legitimate people to evolve there,” explains the Swiss city’s municipality on its website.

    “This is not a gadget, but a way to show that society is changing and to initiate a reflection on the place of women in public space,” confirmed Geneva mayor, Sandrine Salerno, in the columns of the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, deploring “the omnipresence of stereotypical male representations in public space”.

    But does this kind of initiative not open the door to the most diverse complaints? Transgender or overweight people may well soon want to be represented too, noted Le Temps. “It’s true, and the six variants selected are not set in stone,” said Sandrine Salerno.

    But precisely these innumerable variants should justify maintaining the status quo of male figures. “I don’t think so,” retorted Sandrine Salerno.

    The city also wanted to have feminized pedestrian lights, currently represented by a man, but federal legislation, very strict on the matter, prevents it.

    Geneva is the first city in the country to take the step, although Zurich took a similar initiative on a temporary basis during Gay Pride last year. Trade union activists in Zurich also changed “male” street names temporarily to “female” ones on International Women’s Day, swissinfo.ch reported.

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