France: Feminist group 'renames' Paris streets

A street sign with Nina Simone's name in front of Notre Dame cathedral Image copyright Osez le feminisme/Femicite
Image caption The group chose the area around Notre Dame - or Our Lady - cathedral because "it's already quite feminine"

A feminist group has replaced street signs around central Paris to highlight how few of the city's public spaces are currently named after women.

Activists from Osez le feminisme focused their efforts on the area around Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday evening, covering up the existing signs and giving them new female names, Le Figaro reports. The group says streets are named to reflect the history of a city, and women should be as well-recognised as men. "Only 2.6% of the roads in Paris are named after women," says the group's spokeswoman Marie Allibert.

Some of the names chosen for the stunt are well known, including American singer Nina Simone, who lived her final years in France. But the group also selected women who receive less attention despite their achievements. "For example, we chose Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, a composer and great musician, who played at the royal court during the 17th Century, at a time when patriarchy was really dominant," she says.

Of the streets which are currently named after people, the group would like to see half bearing women's names. But if that sounds like a headache for mapmakers, the activists have an alternative idea - sticking a famous name on the end of major sites to give women more prominence. "We could have Place de la Nation - Simone de Beauvoir," Ms Allibert suggests. "We want recognition with large squares and symbolic places given to these great women."

Image copyright Osez le feminisme/Femicite
Image caption Another sign honours German student Sophie Scholl, an anti-Nazi activist executed in 1943

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