#Opinion

Having Female Friendly Public Spaces Doesn’t Mean Special Treatment, It Is A Need

Parking Spot Reserved For Women
A photograph showing car parking spaces reserved for women sparked debate on Reddit recently. The photo captioned talks about such initiatives in South Korea, China, and Germany, although the exact location of the picture is unclear. The picture further fueled the debate that reservations like these actually make them stand apart rather than establishing they are equal. Let us look at why these parking spots reserved for women divided the internet.

The picture depicted four pink-coloured parking spots inside a mall, reserved only for women. The post received over 28,000 upvotes and over 3,700 comments within four days of its upload. The comments had varied arguments. Few felt why to have a different treatment, which further only widens the gap. Others were in favour and gave justifications for their stand.

The user on Reddit post also claimed these parking spots are reserved for pregnant women and families with young kids/babies. Practically, it is much required. Women are of utmost discomfort during pregnancy, it is a good thing if such small things can ease their life. Pregnancy or families with a newborn can restrict mobility due to various reasons. These small initiatives can help women access public places hassle-free.

Usually, the infrastructure in the world’s many public spaces is men-oriented – office buildings, factories, and modes of public transportation. Few women combat all the difficulties in a world made for men, at some point managing pregnancies, breastfeeding, or caring for real, human children. Women navigating these spaces are doing so as a mother, but the public spaces are not even designed with mothers in mind. Workplaces don’t even have basic breastfeeding rooms, forget neutral public infrastructure everywhere.

Amid the lack of mother-friendly-public-infrastructure, why parking spots dedicated to women, and mothers are considered problematic? For pregnant women, even a walk across a parking lot can be both exhausting and dangerous, but why it is ignored? What if all the spaces, including parking lots, are made all human-friendly? Then will we require different spots?

These spots are not about special treatment. This should make us think that if already had an inclusive user-friendly place, then there was no need for such spots. Only uttering- we support gender equality doesn’t work, actions need to speak louder. At least one can appreciate such initiatives, instead of criticising them.


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Parking Spot Reserved For Women, Divides Internet

Few Reddit users appreciated it but had their apprehensions. A user said that the parking spot reserved for women is an outcome of a problem we shouldn’t have. Everyone is selfish and hates to hear about someone else getting aid that they cannot. Another user wrote that it is upsetting people, but it is also sad that the society we live in needs this to help women feel safe.

The user made a valid point, separate parking spots, and separate bathrooms are asked not for feeling special but for safety purposes. Our counterparts couldn’t make us feel safe. It’s not about bathrooms or parking lots, it’s about overall public space – offices also. Several women work until their due date, it is physically hard on mothers with all bodily changes. The office requires a break room designated for everything – breastfeeding, napping, or making phone calls to doctors, schools, and partners. Does the workplace have them? Answer it yourself!

Government should take the initiative and give necessary directives to make public spaces mother-friendly. One of the instances is the South Korean government. They launched special women-only parking spots spending $100 million in Seoul in 2014 to make the capital more female-friendly. Germany started this initiative in 2012, in the town of Tribeg. Apart from these countries, Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia, Austria, and Italy also have women-only parking spots. India could also take inspiration from these countries, as India does have a large women workforce.

The views expressed are the author’s own.