WHEN it comes to having highways and byways named after them, men are streets ahead of women - but in Torfaen, at least, that may start to change, thanks to Torfaen councillor Jessica Powell.

Gender equality in street naming is now firmly on the council’s agenda after members voted for Ms Powell’s motion that officers draw up lists of appropriate women and men after whom future streets may be named.

The 24-year-old, elected at last May’s council election to serve the Pontnewydd ward, was inspired by an Italian movement called Toponomastica Femminile (Female Toponymy) which is seeking to celebrate famous women through the naming of streets up and down the country. Toponymy is the study of place names.

“It might not be something that many people have thought about, but there are very few streets named after women in Torfaen and most other places,” said Ms Powell.

“Apart from saints and monarchs, like Queen Victoria, women don’t really get a look in and these days that seems ridiculous. It’s not about renaming streets but about balancing out the naming process for the future.

“I was quite shocked (the motion was passed) because I thought people might think it just a waste of time, especially with the economic outlook being so tough. But the vast majority of members voted for it.

“It’s also one of those things that doesn’t have a cost implication.”

Ms Powell, a graduate of women’s college New Hall (now called Murray Edwards) at Cambridge , would not be drawn on the names she might like to see on street signs in future.

But, a Labour Party member and councillor, she said women who have made a significant impact in Labour politics, the trades union movement and in women’s rights, such as the Suffragettes, might be among those considered appropriate.

● Can you think of a female leading light in Torfaen’s history who should be honoured by having a street named after her? Or is there a woman now you think fits the bill?

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below or e-mail letters@gwent-wales.co.uk

Male bias in street names confirmed

A SWIFT look through a Gwent valleys street atlas confirms Ms Powell’s view that women are under-represented.

Saints Hilda and Mary are commemorated in Griffithstown, but male saints on street names are more common.

Themed naming of streets tend to have a male bias too, an example being streets in Cwmbran named after playwrights and poets such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Milton and Keats, while numerous male politicians are so honoured There is an Elizabeth Row at The British, a Florence Place at Griffithstown and Victorias in several areas.

In Torfaen, only one other street is seemingly named after a woman - Clare Drew Way, in Croesyceiliog.