Why have Geneva’s new 'feminised' pedestrian crossing signs caused such a row?

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Why have Geneva’s new 'feminised' pedestrian crossing signs caused such a row?
Ville de Genève. Facebook page, Geneva Discovery

As part of its plan to promote gender equality, Geneva has installed 250 pedestrian crossing panels featuring women. But why are many residents are complaining about the new signs?


“In agreement with the cantonal transport office, a variation of six feminized pictograms will now cover half of the panels where male figures were represented”, Geneva’s authorities announced in a statement last week.

The new panels are part of “the policy of promoting equality between women and men and against LGBTIQ discrimination in the City of Geneva”, the statement said.

The signs show a pregnant woman, two women holding hands, as well as an elderly person, crossing the street.

Serge Dal Busco, State Councilor in charge of the infrastructure department noted that the initiative “goes in the direction of a necessary change of mentalities in terms of equality in all aspects of our society; showing diversity on official signs is not trivial, it is a concrete, visible and relevant contribution to global action in favour of equality”.


However, many in Geneva are critical of the project, arguing that women’s rights should begin with pay equality and not merely with pictograms.

“The signs are grotesque, useless and costly," Geneva deputy Salika Wenger told Le Temps newspaper. 

Ana Roch of Geneva Citizens Movement pointed out that “the city is ridiculing itself by wanting to carry the weight of sexism on generic signs”.

Some also expressed outrage at the price of the project, which costs 56,000 francs.

“There are so many people in financial difficulties here and the city is throwing money out the window”, Roch noted.

The sentiment is echoed by a Twitter user who wrote, “What an idiotic idea! It shows that Geneva couldn’t care less about its taxpayers’ money”.

The criticism took Geneva’s mayor, Sandrine Salerno, by surprise.

“In thirteen years of politics, I have rarely had so many violent, misogynistic and conservative reactions to a project that is part of a broad plan to fight sexism”, she said.



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