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

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?

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

“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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Fire next to Geneva Airport disrupts flights

Flights to and from Geneva Airport were temporarily disrupted on Friday after a major fire broke out just beyond the perimeter fence, a spokesman for Switzerland's second-busiest airport told AFP.

Fire next to Geneva Airport disrupts flights

Black smoke could initially be seen spewing from a construction site intended to be a future centre for asylum seekers.

“Due to a fire at the edge of the runway, landings and take-offs have been suspended since 5:35pm (1535 GMT),” the airport said on Twitter.

“A reopening of the runway, for take-offs initially, is envisaged around 7:00pm (1700 GMT).”

Airport spokesman Ignace Jeannerat in the evening told AFP that the fire was “under control”, but staff needed to “secure the area and remove the debris”.

The fire was “outside the airport perimeter” and “creating a lot of smoke”, he said.

At around 1630 GMT, an AFP journalist noted that there were no visible flames or smoke. Firefighters continued to hose down the building, which is surrounded by scaffolding and tarpaulins.

Some inbound flights were diverted to Lyon and Basel.

Geneva is Switzerland’s second-busiest airport after Zurich. Wedged in on the edge of Swiss territory, the runway is next to the border with France.

In 2021, the airport welcomed more than 5.9 million passengers, down from the pre-pandemic level of nearly 18 million in 2019.