By Anton Constantinou
“The entire business travel community should be developing female-only environments” suggests Maiden Voyage in their recent Women in Business Travel 2016 report. The call comes following reported cases of women being exposed to safety related incidents and sexual harassment abroad.
According to the study, almost 80% of female business travellers feel unprepared when confronted with such a situation. As a result, increasing pressure has been mounted on travel providers to deliver better duty of care. Recommendations include better in-room facilities, more flexible seating arrangements on planes and greater on-train assistance.
From a current standpoint, women face discrimination of all shapes and sizes. But, for many, the introduction of female-only spaces is divisive, and serves only to create segregation. Others argue the contrary. Writer, Kate Milner, recently commented: “Creating safe spaces for women is not sexism. In fact, denying women safe spaces is far more sexist and discriminatory.”
She added: “Dismantling the patriarchy that accommodates male sexual dominance and a violence-embedded culture appears to be taking longer than we anticipated.”
June saw the launch of Glastonbury Festival’s first-ever women-only venue. The Sisterhood, as it’s known, appeared in the festival’s Shangri-La zone. Described by the organisers as a “revolutionary clubhouse”, it’s an “intersectional, queer, trans and disability-inclusive space” run entirely by female staff, promoters and security.
On the surface, The Sisterhood may seem out of the ordinary, but it’s one in a number of female-only communal spaces which have sprung up around the world in recent years. Here are some of the most interesting we’ve identified:
At the airport
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Southeast China went to new lengths to protect female passengers in September with the introduction of three women-only security lanes. All lanes are marked in pink and serve to cut queuing time, as well as curb the unwanted advances of male guards.
The aisles are overseen by female security guards, and let children of either gender join their mothers.
On the train
In the wake of a string of sex attacks which took place in Cologne on New Year’s Eve this year, one German train operator responded with the opening of a women-only carriage, making rides safer for solo travellers and those with children.
Other such carriages around the globe can be found in Iran, Japan, Egypt and Dubai.
For the health conscious
London has its fair share of health clubs, but none as female friendly as the Grace Belgravia, which is dedicated entirely to women, and combines a spa, gym, restaurant/bar and a medical and wellbeing clinic on-site. Members have access to a choice of tasty home delivery programmes, including sugar-free, vegan and pre/post natal meals.
Near Park Avenue
Self -titled “a throne away from home”, The Wing provides a place for women to work and socialise all on one site. Inspired by the founder’s own bitter memory of getting ready in a dimly lit coffee shop toilet, it offers like-minded women a solution to networking and connecting without fear of male intervention. The 3,500-square-foot space adopts a domestic/residential ambience with wooden floors, open-plan rooms and softly coloured walls.
At the water’s edge
McIvers Baths can be found on a rock platform, close to Coogee Beach, New South Wales and offers breathtaking views of the ocean.
It’s home to Australia’s last remaining female-only seawater pool – open morning to night – which is popular with mothers and children. Prior to their opening in 1886, the baths were a go-to sunbathing spot for women.
“She spots” are South Korea’s take on female-only parking spaces. First launched in 2014, they contain bright pink outlines and a skirt women logo, allowing for quick identification.
At the time of being built, the spaces were accompanied by female-only toilets and resurfaced pedestrian walkways, aimed at heel wearers. Similar parking spaces can be found in Italy, Austria and Kuwait.
In a mall
The Kingdom Centre shopping mall in Riyadh has a whole floor reserved for women, which can only be accessed via special elevators. The Lady’s Kingdom contains shops, cafes, restaurants, and has been described as a “place of freedom and privacy”.