China's women-only parking spaces decried as sexist

Oversized parking spaces marked with a stiletto on a pink background in Zhejiang province have stirred debate in China, with some saying that they reinforce the stereotype of women being bad drivers.
Oversized parking spaces marked with a stiletto on a pink background in Zhejiang province have stirred debate in China, with some saying that they reinforce the stereotype of women being bad drivers.PHOTO: WEIBO ACCOUNT OF SINA

BEIJING • Women-only car parking spaces marked with a stiletto on a pink background have stirred debate in China, with some criticising the design as sexist.

The oversized parking spaces at the Jiande and Tonglu service stations in Zhejiang province are reportedly 3.2m wide - or 11/2 times the size of regular parking spaces, Australia's ABC online reported yesterday.

They join other designated women parking spots being unveiled around the country, from shopping malls in Chongqing in south-west China to northern Hebei province, ABC said.

While some Chinese like the women-only spaces, saying the design is considerate, other commentators on social media site Sina Weibo say the design reinforces stereotypes that women are bad drivers.

"It is frankly discrimination against women," a user named Nanyabianfu wrote.

Ms Fang Hongying, manager of the Jiande highway service area, recently told China's Xinhua news agency that driving skills were only part of the reason behind the women-only parking spots introduced last October, ABC said.

"The women's parking spaces are closer to the exits and monitoring systems, which is more convenient for female drivers to take a break or go shopping in the main building, and much safer, especially at night," she was quoted as saying.

According to a survey on Weibo, 63.7 per cent of 1,700 respondents said it was a good idea to designate women-only parking spaces.

A number of priority seats, corridors and subway carriages for women have appeared in public venues in Chinese cities in recent years.

Women-only security check lanes are available at airports in Beijing, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Guangzhou. Security staff explain that the special lanes can improve efficiency and protect the privacy of female passengers, Xinhua reported earlier this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'China's women-only parking spaces decried as sexist'. Print Edition | Subscribe