Petition grows to keep 'Fearless Girl' on Wall Street

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Fans of the statue created for International Women's Day push for permanent placement.

Yesterday, a little girl appeared in front of Wall Street’s well-known "Charging Bull." Standing defiantly, with her hands on her hips, the girl stares down the bull in front of her, a symbol of power on International Women’s Day.

Dubbed "Fearless Girl," the statue, conceived by McCann New York for State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), garnered a lot of admiration with crowds of people showing up to take photos next to the girl. Now, a strategist is petitioning for it to become a permanent fixture.

On Change.org, Nira Desai is looking for at least 5,000 people to sign a petition to keep the "Fearless Girl" staring down the bull.

"Wouldn’t it be great if she got to stay longer?" wrote Desai, director of strategy and learning at an international development organization and past sustainability consultant at Unilever. She is more than halfway to her goal—at press time, 3,700 people have sponsored the petition to be delivered straight to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the number is increasing by the minute. There is also a Twitter handle @makemepermanent that encourages people to sign the petition, although Desai has no idea who might have started it.

Happy International Women's day. #nyc #women #feminism #womenshistorymonth #womensday #superhero #facesofthemajority

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The statue, created by artist Kristen Visbal, is part of the SSGA’s campaign to increase the number of women on clients’ company boards. Desai said the fact that a major corporation installed the "Fearless Girl" is significant.

"Wall Street has always stereotypically represented a heavily male-dominated environment, and the charging bull reinforces that," said Desai. "To counter it with a defiant young woman, taking a stand, is a provocative and compelling way to get people to reconsider women’s leadership in corporations and on boards. It also allows passerbys to reflect on the need to act, to not accept the status quo and to stand up for what they believe in." 

Indeed, one of the petition’s supporters, Ingrid Herrera of Pennsylvania, commented online about the issue, writing, "I’m signing because, as a woman, I felt like such an outsider in the corporate world."

The statue was to be displayed for only a week, according to SSGA. Then because of public outcry, it received an extension; de Blasio tweeted yesterday that the statue would remain until April 2. "Our future rests in the hands of fearless girls," he wrote.

But for many admirers, that is still not long enough. Throughout the day, people on social media requested that the statue remain where it is permanently, like actress Jessica Chastain.

And Twitter user Mary Emily O’Hara, called for people to retweet her post if they agree that the #FearlessGirl should stay. So far, more than a 1,000 people have retweeted the message.

Others tweeted directly at the NYC mayor’s office Twitter account:

The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. As far as SSGA is concerned, the statue should be kept up.

"We would be eager to discuss it with the city of New York," said Anne McNally, head of public relations at SSGA. "Ultimately, they make the final decision."

For now, Desai said the statue's presence is "a start at raising awareness" of gender inequalities in a "bold and beautiful way."

UPDATE: A week after the petition was formed, nearly 23,000 people have signed the petition.