In São Paulo, Brazil, 84% of the street names that pay tribute to illustrious figures are named after men. Recognising the importance of discussions regarding this percentage, O Estado de São Paulo newspaper decided to spark a debate on the underrepresentation of women in public space tributes in the city.  

To begin a dialogue, the newspaper partnered with FCB Brasil to launch the #somosmaisque16porcento (#wearemorethan16percent) project.

To get the conversation started, the team created the first database of women that played a significant role in the history of the country, and therefore should be honored in public spaces in São Paulo. The 16porcento Web site invited people to vote for a pre-selected list of women based on their profiles, or submit other names for nomination. Each new nomination required the user to present a justification for the choice and upload a picture of the woman.

The most-cited name was the actress Dercy Gonçalves, followed by the artist Tomie Ohtake, and the writer Hilda Hilst. In all, there were almost 300 women nominated and 1.2 million votes.

Readers were able to nominate women they want to honour in the public spaces of São Paulo. This campaign led to passionate debate and productive discussion.
Readers were able to nominate women they want to honour in the public spaces of São Paulo. This campaign led to passionate debate and productive discussion.

The project was covered by the Estado newspaper and on its social networks, encouraging readers to participate. At the end of the campaign, Estadão will deliver an official document to the city council, encouraging it to change this 16% underrepresentation of women.

This is yet another action by Estadão with an innovative and transformative approach to an issue that is often seen in our editorial coverage, that of the prejudice endured by women.

The project’s platform also has a section on interesting facts about the discrepancy between tributes made to men and women in São Paulo, such as the fact that the city has 1,170 streets named after male doctors and only 11 after women doctors. The same is true for professors, with 637 streets named after male professors and only 79 named after women professors.

It is against the law to give the names of living people to public locations, projects, services, or monuments; therefore, only submissions for posthumous tributes can be accepted.  

“The names of the streets of Brazilian cities tell the country’s history, but what history are we telling with these numbers?” asked Joanna Monteiro, chief creative officer at FCB. “This action will put an end to any excuses for this statistic to remain unchanged. Once again, Estadão intends to raise awareness on important issues regarding how women are portrayed in society.”