“When a woman is happy, everyone is happy.” What sounds like a bad fairy tale closing line to us, is the actual foundation upon which government officials in Seoul, Korea have based a $700 million urban planning spend. Aiming to make their city a place “where women can live happily,” their version of female Blissville includes pink parking lots, crack-less sidewalks and garbage disposals for every burdened housewife.
Cho Eun-hee, the assistant mayor of Women and Family Affairs at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, is the woman currently leading the so-called “Women Friendly Seoul” project, which was initially launched in 2007 by the then mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon. Apparently, he had his epiphany during a meeting with female city officials.
As Korea Times reports, “A woman complained that women’s heels often got stuck in cracks in the sidewalk in front of city hall.” From that, Mayor Oh deduced “a woman’s happiness means more than just achieving gender equality,” and his vision for a “Women Friendly Seoul” was put into motion.
“It is like adding a female touch to a universal design and make things more comfortable for women.” – Cho Eun-hee
“Women Friendly Seoul” is a conglomerate of 90 small projects that “experts in gender women’s studies”, “housewives” and “feminism specialists” are consulting on. According to plans (past and present), these are a few of their priorities.
Pink Parking Lots: Designed for women-only and introduced in April 2014, these gender specific spots are wider than standard spaces (’cause we all suck at driving?), and are clearly marked with pink lines for the convenience of female drivers. The surrounding areas also have brighter lights and CCTVs for added safety.
Crack-less sidewalks: This project “will reduce cracks so that women’s high-heels won’t get stuck”. The sidewalks will also be “equipped with resting places” (you know how tired we all get from walking), and CCTVs for safety.
More Female Toilets: You can NEVER have enough female toilets… an indisputable fact. Not sure where these will be placed, but we hope they plan to pipe Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” into each stall to really drive home the theme.
Bus Straps: They were previously adjusted to a male’s average height, “but we changed the height of the straps so more women can hold on to them easily.” (question… if, presumably, the same women who are in those high heels that keep getting stuck in sidewalk cracks, also take the bus, won’t they be taller than or as tall as the average man?)
Down the “Women Friendly Seoul” road, Cho, the highest-ranking female official in the local government, who Korea Times describes as a “housewife”, is anxiously awaiting the introduction of garbage disposals. She said, “It is very bothersome to take out food waste every day. It’s wet and smells bad.”
We’d opt for true equality over convenience, any day. But, hey… to each her own.
Lead image: Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA