Israel’s Transport and Road Safety Ministry has been apparently been examining the possibility of adding female silhouettes to road signs across the country in an effort to promote equality of all genders, officials said.
Ynet’s sister outlet Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the ministry has held several meetings about the subject with officials from the police and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, whose students will help design the new signs.
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The ministry has been in control of road signage, which it inherited from the British Mandate since the 1960s. Since then, not much has changed in the road signage we all know, but an upcoming change will probably be the most significant in recent history.
According to officials, the process will take a long time since a change in road signage would require a new legislation. A ministry official leading the project said that the gender diversity in road signage is part of a wider plan to promote gender equality in public spaces.
“The signs are a language, and it’s important to us to include everyone. Women today are excluded from the public space, and we’re taking steps to diversify signs with images of women and even transgender people.”
The change in road signage is already underway in some parts of the world. Some countries in Europe, like the UK and Switzerland, as well as Canada, New-Zealand, Australia and India are already using multi-gendered road signs.
As of now, the Transport and Road Safety Ministry has yet to decide which signs will be changed, but it’s clear the choice will be between a small number of signs featuring a man’s image: like a man walking on a pedestrian crossing.
According to the ministry, the ones to decide on where the road signs will be stalled will be mayors of local authorities in accordance with according the ministry’s guidelines. Should the reform go through, we could see signs featuring both genders in the coming years.
While this is the first time the ministry has talked about the issue, in 2020, the Tel-Aviv Municipality replaced 30 road signs to temporary ones depicting both genders as part of International Women’s Day campaign.
Transport and Road Safety Minister MK Meirav Michaeli praised the move: “Just as verbal language does, visual language shapes reality as well. Road signs are one of the central languages in the public space, one that until today ignored women and other genders. No more. Equality should be everywhere and be seen everywhere. Therefore, we in the Transport and Road Safety Ministry are starting a project to change road signs so that each and every one could be part of the public space.”