New Street Names Acknowledge Pioneering Basel Women
The Basel Justice and Security Department has recently named nine streets and places in the Dreispitz area after women who over the last 2,000 years have played pioneering roles in Basel. They are all located around the Iris von Roten-Platz, which is named after a feminist pioneer; its name was announced last year, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Swiss women’s right to vote.
The newly named locations honor the following women:
- Urbana Iulia, who lived around 300 A.D., was the daughter of a liberated slave. She is one of the first two women in Basel’s history whose name is known, based on the inscription on a grave marker.
- Empress Kunigunde of Luxemburg (ca. 980-1033) ruled together with her husband, Emperor Heinrich II, over the German nation at the time. The couple donated the Basler Münster (Cathedral) in 1019. Kunigunde is also the patron saint of Basel.
- Wibrandis Rosenblatt (1504-1564) who was instrumental in bringing Protestantism to Basel. She was married to three major religious reformers, including Johannes Oekolampad.
- Emilie Louise Frey (1869-1937) was the first female student at the Universität Basel in 1890 and became a medical doctor.
- Katja Wulff (1890-1992) was a pioneer of modern expressionist dance and founded a dance school and dance troupe in Basel.
- Dora Schmidt (1895-1985) was a national economist and the first woman in a leading position in the federal administration.
- Rut Keiser (1897-1968) was the first vice principal of the former girl’s high school at Kohlenberg. When a motion to grant women the right to vote was rejected in 1959, she helped organize a strike by female teachers.
- Gertrud Spiess (1914-1995) was in the Basler Grossrat from 1968-1976, became the first female president of the Grossrat in 1975/1976, and was a member of the Swiss parliament (Nationalrat) from 1976-1983.
- Gretel Bolliger (1921-2009) was a pioneer of Swiss track and field athletics; she held 56 titles and 25 records and participated in the 1952 Olympic Games.
Overall, only 19 streets and places in Basel have been named after women to date, compared with 110 locations named after men—so there is still a ways to go to achieve equality!Share