Brussels’ public transport operator marked International Women’s Day on Monday by renaming 10 metro stations after famous women for one day, and pledging to permanently rename 17 bus and tram stops over the next three years to “feminise” its network.
The late U.S. civil rights leader Rosa Parks, girls’ rights champion Malala Yousafzai and teen climate-change fighter Greta Thunberg were among those whose names were given for a day to stops on the Belgian capital’s four-line subway network.
Transport operator STIB said in a statement that permanently renaming long-established stations and stops throws up practical challenges, but it was committed to bringing more balance to its network over time.
STIB said that many public transport stops are named after men whose names are given to streets in those neighbourhoods, and there are 14 times more streets named after men than women in Brussels.
“At the time the names were chosen, society was different. Women did not have a role in society then, unlike today,” it said. “It was men who took the decisions and obviously they chose” men’s names.
Seven bus and tram stations will be renamed after women this year, and 10 more in 2022 and 2023, but changes to metro station names will need approval from the regional transport ministry.