“At the same time, thanks to all the traffic jams, it’s a very visible name. Now is a moment to think, which women have had an impact on Brussels?”
It was recently reported that barely 6% of all streets in Brussels are named after a woman, perhaps most notably Avenue Louise, named after Leopold’s oldest daughter.
“Of the roughly 5,000 streets in the Brussels region, there are 2,005 with the name of a man,” said Brussels secretary of state for equal opportunities Nawal Ben Hamou.
“And those with a woman’s name? 138,” she said. “That has to change. The existence of women’s street names make women feel proud, and can inspire women to become active themselves.”
A map made by the collective Equal Street Names shows the imbalance. The streets named after a man appear in yellow, while the streets named after a woman are barely visible in red. The feminist group Noms Peut-Etre collaborated in compiling the map.
“With the colour-coding, the problem becomes very visual, and very clear,” said Camille Wernaers, a member of the group speaking to the RTBF.
“It’s as if they were saying that when certain neighbourhoods were being created, women were not there. We can see how women disappear from the collective memory, although they have always been there.”
The person to be honoured by the re-naming of the tunnel has yet to be decided, but the equal opportunities department will discuss the matter, as will the two collectives. The latter plan to hold a meeting open to all to come up with a short list to present to the mobility minister, to be held in the Maison des Femmes in Schaerbeek on 23 March.