‘Women-Only Parking Space’ to Disappear After 14 Years of Controversy
Women-Only Parking Spaces to be Removed After 14 Years
Controversies Surrounding the Initiative
The city of Seoul has opted to discontinue the practice of women-only parking spaces, a policy in place for 14 years since its initiation in 2009, despite the controversies surrounding the initiative. Initially introduced in 1992 at Lotte Department Store and later expanded in 2009 under the leadership of Mayor Oh Se Hoon, Seoul became the first local government to implement women-only parking spaces. The Women First Parking policy aimed to designate 50% of total parking spaces for women, designed to be wider, free of blind spots for CCTV cameras, and strategically located near parking management booths.
Although initially successful and even recognized with a United Nations Public Administration Award, the policy faced criticism, primarily centered on claims of exacerbating gender discrimination. Critics argued that women, unlike socially disadvantaged groups such as people with disabilities or older individuals, did not require larger parking spaces for mobility. Additionally, the suggestion that only women accompany children raised concerns about perpetuating gender stereotypes, excluding men from this role.
Despite Mayor Oh Se Hoon assuring at the policy’s launch that CCTV installation and parking space expansion would happen simultaneously, the city did not carry out these measures. Consequently, the failure to implement these plans compromised the original intent of women-only parking spaces, creating gender-segregated areas. The policy also drew flak for its lack of enforceability, unlike legally regulated spaces such as those for the disabled or electric vehicle charging stations.
Some Express Regret at the Decision
In response to sustained controversies, the city of Seoul has announced the abolition of the Women First Parking policy by 2023. The redesign of these spaces as Family Care Parking Spaces allows not only women but also elderly individuals with mobility challenges and drivers with young children to utilize them. While some expressed disappointment over the change, citing the convenience of more extended spaces, others welcomed the decision, suggesting that regions operating similar policies should reconsider them.
By. Choi Eun Young