Nearly 5,000 public and private parking spots will have been painted pink throughout Seoul this year, and thousands more are scheduled to go under the brush next year. These pink parking spots are reserved for women and it’s an effort by the city of Seoul to make life easier for women by reducing the number of steps from the parking spot to their ultimate destination. It’s called the Women Friendly Seoul Project, an effort to transform Seoul into a safer, more heel-friendly “space for women.” However, the writer of the Time magazine article notes that this may be all good and dandy, but it doesn’t address the underlying issue of gender inequality in the workplace, and that this effort is more cosmetic than anything really meaningful. Well it happens to be a $104 million project and its slogan is “Happy Women, Happy Seoul,” with a focus on mothers of young children and the unemployed.
So what are the facts presented by the Times writer? Half of South Korean women are fully employed. There really are no maternity leave benefits and getting back to work post-maternity is very difficult. The writer may have a good point here. Couldn’t the $104 million been better invested in training and job development?