Women and toilets

Greed, C. (2016) Women and toilets. In: Spaces of Transgressive Maternal Practices in the City: The Transgressive City, El Colegio di Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, 21-23 July 2016. Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/29949

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Many women are concerned about the lack of public toilets, and the poor design and lack of facilities in those that do exist. With reference mainly to the United Kingdom, but with global parallels, this paper considers the role of toilet provision in limiting women’s mobility and also restricting the freedom of children. Women of all ages and types need toilets. In particular pregnant women and those with babies and small children are adversely affected. Women who are menstruating need toilet facilities, as do the elderly and those with various urinary and incontinence problems. Young, able-bodied, single women also need toilets especially when commuting long distances to work. But public toilet provision historically has been primarily for men, and has been provided and designed by men professionals. Women are usually given fewer facilities than men, but arguably their needs are greater and more varied. Women, at best, have been seen as an awkward addition, and been provided with fewer facilities, resulting in women having to queue and stand in line for toilets. Provision of toilets for people with disabilities has been a relatively recent innovation and the design of ‘disabled toilets’ was originally mainly aimed at men war veterans rather than women. Baby changing and childcare facilities have been an even more recent introduction, at the whim of local providers, and often mothers are expected to share facilities with the disabled, causing conflict over the use of scarce resources. Trying to use the regular toilets with push chair (baby buggy) is virtually impossible because of narrow toilet door entrances and limited space within the cubicle, narrow access corridors and poor accessibility overall. Lack of toilets has implications for health and wellbeing and restricts the mobility of the elderly, those with disabilities and children, and undermines sustainability, transportation, inclusive urban design and regeneration policies. It is argued, public toilets policy is a town planning issue, crucial to creating sustainable, efficient, accessible and equitable cities. Ways of integrating toilet provision into city planning and urban governance are discussed.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:women, urban planning, disability, public toilets, gender, inequality, sanitation
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology
ID Code:29949
Deposited By: Professor C. Greed
Deposited On:04 Oct 2016 11:03
Last Modified:04 Oct 2016 11:05

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