Women-only parking spaces in China spark heated online debate


The parking spaces bigger than average and marked with a picture of a high heeled shoe

Nicola Chan |

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The women-only parking spaces are discriminatory against women, say some online users.

A woman on the mainland has said she will not use women-only parking spaces in the country, because it’s sexist. The parking spaces the woman found in Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province, are bigger than average spaces and have a picture of a high heeled shoe on them. The woman said she did not feel it was right to use the parking spaces, and posted about them online.

The post attracted a lot of online debate, with some saying this is very clearly discriminating against women drivers, and others saying that the spaces are actually a good thing. Some suggested that the bigger car park spaces should be marked for new, rather than women, drivers.

A similar controversy was sparked in Kunming in Yunnan province, in October, after women-only parking spaces were introduced. Many complained that the larger spaces reinforced the stereotype that women were worse drivers than men. A similar scheme has also been introduced in Zhengzhou in Henan province.

“We should think about whether measures of this kind reinforce gender stereotypes – like that women are less capable than men when it comes to driving,” said Suki Luk, a development manager from HER Fund – a charitable organisation which works to achieve gender equality.

If men really are better drivers than women, she said, then we might have to ask if the problem does not come from the driving lessons themselves and if they were actually designed with men in mind.

To make sure no public facility in Hong Kong discriminates against men or women, Luk said we need to work with building developers.

“For example, mall developers could replace the transparent glass on [the sides of] escalators with frosted glass. This would protect the modesty of woman wearing short skirts.”

Fang Hongying, a car park manager, was quoted by the Zhejiang Daily as saying they spent 70 million yuan (HK$83.9 million) to create the spaces for the improved safety and convenience of women motorists.

Edited by Ginny Wong

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