Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Putting Women on the Map

Yesterday, in honor of International Women's Day, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources announced the release of a new interactive map which highlights all the roads, towns and other locations in the country which have been named for women. The Recognizing Women with Canadian Place Names interactive map shows 500 locations in Canada which have been named for women from lots of different backgrounds.

All the locations named for women are shown on the map using colored markers. The colors of these markers reflect the different backgrounds of the women honored, such as royalty, politics, science or the arts.Click on a marker on the map and you can read a short story behind the woman being honored with her own place-name. 

I have a little problem with the Recognizing Women with Canadian Pace Names map. I think they made a strange choice to show place-names on the map using map markers rather than the customary map labels. I can't help feeling that using map labels would be more in keeping with the purpose of the map. Using map markers instead of place-name labels almost feels as if the map has actually removed these women's names from the map rather than honoring them. 

Geochicas has been at the forefront of efforts around the world to reveal the under-representation of women in place-names. Their Las Calles de las Mujeres is an interactive map which reveals all the streets named for men and women in a number of cities in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. 

A number of other interactive mapping projects have explored the sexist culture of naming streets in cities around the world: 

Street Names in Vienna visualizes all the streets named for men and women in the Austrian capital.
EqualStreetNames: Belgrade is an interactive map which colors the streets of the capital of Serbia based on whether they are named for men or women. 
EqualStreetNames.Brussels is a similar map looking at the number of streets named for men and women in the capital of Belgium. 
From Pythagoras to Amalia analyzes 5,400 Amsterdam street names - including exploring how many are named for women compared to the number named after men.

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