There are hundreds of statues in New York City. But once you remove the ones in which female figures represent Liberty, Freedom, etc., just five sculptures depict actual historical women. (In case you’re wondering: Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.)
An initiative announced earlier this year called She Built NYC aims to change that dismal figure, by commissioning and installing new public monuments that honor women. Now, the city just named its first subject: Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress.
The last few years have brought tremendous scrutiny to statues and monuments in the U.S. According to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 100 monuments and symbols of the Confederacy have been removed since 2015.
The push to remove statues that honor figures or causes that don’t square with modern mores has been accompanied by efforts, like New York City’s, to erect more monuments to women and minorities.
As KQED reported, San Francisco recently introduced a policy requiring that women comprise “at least 30% of nonfictional figures depicted or commemorated in statues and other works of art on City-owned property, public building names, and street names, be women.”