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Alternative A-Z of Amsterdam as feminists redraw the map

by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 9 August 2018 16:55 GMT

Trees are illuminated near a canal in central Amsterdam, Netherlands, November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

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A feminist group is encouraging supporters to contact local authorities to push for more public spaces to commemorate women

By Sonia Elks

LONDON, Aug 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - 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.

(Reporting by Sonia Elks; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, resilience and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories.)

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