State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou led a coalition of elected officials representing Lower Manhattan in a rally on Friday afternoon to push for “Fearless Girl” — a bronze statue of a young female striking a jaunty, audacious pose that was recently installed in front of the “Charging Bull” sculpture at Bowling Green — to remain there permanently.
The statue appeared at the foot of Broadway two weeks ago, in a bid by State Street Global Advisors (a Boston-based asset-management firm that is the world’s third largest) to make a statement for International Women’s Day, on March 8. Although City officials had quietly okayed the surprise placement of the sculpture, they initially signed off on a permit that would allow it to remain only for a month.
Surrounded by State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council member Margaret Chin, other elected officials, and more than a dozen young girls, Ms. Niou said, “it is critical that as a City we embrace messages that encourage discussions around gender diversity, and the need for more women in leadership roles. The scarcity of women in legislatures shows us that much work remains to achieve gender equality in places of leadership.” She also noted that more than 50 female elected officials have co-signed a March 15 letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, urging the City to extend permission for “Fearless Girl” to stay at its current site indefinitely.
The letter reads, in part, “the discussion around ‘Fearless Girl’ has raised awareness about the need for women in leadership roles — from business to government — and as a City and a State we should encourage this dialogue by granting the permanent placement of the exhibit. Many of us are women in legislatures, but we only make up a small percentage of our respective legislative bodies. The numbers of women in these legislatures have increased, but it is still not representative of the people we serve. That is why it is critical that we embrace symbols of female empowerment.”
At the Friday rally, State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “‘Fearless Girl’ has inspired important conversations around gender representation, fairness, and public art. Having this symbol in Lower Manhattan sends an important message as we move towards a more inclusive and representative City, State, and country.”
The bronze casting of “Fearless Girl” was created by Delaware sculptor Kristen Visbal, who was commissioned by the McCann New York advertising agency, on behalf of State Street. Ms. Visbal said of her piece, “the point was to interject the female in a permanent medium into what has been seen largely as a masculine environment. The bull itself has also been seen as male. Bronze, as the most permanent medium for art, symbolizes the perpetuity of women in the work place and demands the need for gender diversity in the work place be addressed.”
She described her reaction to the response from the public (who have flocked to the site, making it Lower Manhattan’s newest tourist magnet) and elected officials as, “ecstatic about the positive response to ‘Fearless Girl’ and what this response may mean to the push for gender diversity in the work place. I personally feel that the placement of ‘Fearless Girl’ at Bowling Green Park is historical and I am so honored to be involved with this very timely message.”