“Where are all the women?”: NYC plans statues of trailblazing women

The Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues are shown on Lower Broadway in New York on March 22, 2017.


New York City’s “Fearless Girl” and the Statue of Liberty might soon have some sisters. City officials have launched a new effort to commission public artworks and monuments honoring trailblazing women.

New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, and the city’s department of cultural affairs kicked off the She Built NYC project and are asking for the public’s help in nominating women or historical events to commemorate. 

“Any walking tour of the five boroughs raises a big question: Where are all the women?” McCray said Wednesday, pointing out how many statues in the Big Apple honor men. “Finding monuments that honor women should not be a scavenger hunt.” 

There are more than 1,000 monuments standing across New York’s five boroughs, but according to a recent count by Gothamist, just five statues honor historical women: Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Har­riet Tubman. In the city’s famed Central Park, there are almost two dozen statues honoring men, but female representations are limited to fictional characters like Mother Goose and nameless angels, Gothamist notes.

“The people we celebrate in our public realm can either inspire young girls to dream big, or it can perpetuate the message that women have not contributed to society – something we know is untrue,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said in a statement.

“This is a day we finally start putting women where they belong — on pedestals,” Glen said.

To qualify for nomination, historical events must have happened at least 20 years ago, according to She Built NYC guidelines. Nominated individuals must no longer be living and must be known for something that took place at least 20 years ago.

New York’s cultural affairs department has committed up to $10 million over the next four years to build new monuments across the city. An advisory board of mostly women will sort through the nominations, which will be collected until August 1. The city plans to announce the subject and site of the monument by January 2019. 

The first nomination was given Wednesday by Mia Emmanuel, a member of the Girl Scouts Leadership Institute, who nominated the original founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low.

“Fearless Girl,” which has become a a global symbol of female tenacity and an internet sensation, is expected to be moved by the end of the year to a permanent home at the New York Stock Exchange.

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