Equality Comes in Strange Places — Like The Bathroom

It seems like such a little thing, but it’s the little things that can make all of the difference in fairness between the genders.  Women are finally getting a chance to have equality at the Capitol.

At least, in the bathroom.

It’s being called the “Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act,” and simply put, it means that all federal buildings must now have as many women’s toilets available as they have men’s toilet and urinals.  It seems like such a small issue, but in fact is an amazing step towards admitting that federal work areas may no longer be the male-dominated spaces they have been assumed to be in the past.

From Ms. Magazine’s Feminist Wire:

Congress held a hearing yesterday on the “Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act,” which would require a one-to-one ratio for toilets in women and men’s bathroom facilities in federal buildings. The bill, sponsored by Representative Edolphus Towns (D-NY), requires any buildings constructed, undergoing major renovations, or leased, to be constructed “in such a way that the number of toilets in women’s restrooms will equal or exceed the number of toilets (including urinals) in men’s restrooms.”

During the hearing, Kathryn Anthony, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne architecture professor, said “Until recently, most architects, contractors, engineers, building-code officials and clients were not concerned about this issue…They rarely contacted women about their restroom needs; women were rarely employed in these male-dominated professions, nor were they in a position to effect change.” reported the Washington Post. During the hearing, increased risk of urinary tract infections, cystitis, abdominal pain, or other health problems associated with long lines at restrooms were also mentioned.

According to Huliq, Towns said last month that disparate restroom facilities have long “served as manifestations of more deeply rooted problems of discrimination among race, physical ability and gender.


An equal number of restrooms are of course a great first step.  But why stop there?  Why not mandate that every federal building have a designated and properly equipped lactation room available for nursing mothers, in order to make it easier for women to return to work while still caring for their young.  Or even better, a federally mandated in office daycare center in each building, something that would greatly improve the working and personal lives of both men and women working at government jobs.

As much as it is great to recognize that all people urinate, real strides in gender equality will be found when we ease the burden of childcare that often rests on the women, and make it easier both for mothers to work and raise children, and for fathers to shoulder more of the responsibilities.

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Maureen North
Maureen North7 years ago

Having an equal number of facilities in men's and women's rooms are fair! As for the federally mandated pumping room, I don't know. How about working women use breast pumps instead?

Morgan G.
Morgan Getham7 years ago

How about this: Men's bathrooms have to have as much floor space as women's bathrooms do? How's that for equality?

Pat Tyler
Pat Tyler7 years ago

Moms can nurse any where now with the cozy
wraparound for mom and baby. My niece comes to all the occasions and feeds her daughter in the pool ,At the bar be que etc.

johan l.
paul l7 years ago

Yes, I feel guilty.
Equal bathroom facilities for women and men should be a given.
But lactation room?
Never thought of that.
Besides, with the tight economic climate, it would help a lot if mothers with young babies can go back to work earlier!

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p7 years ago

it`s a beginning

Ann P.
Ann P7 years ago

Oh wow, I never took the time to go count how many urinals or stalls men had versus women....who came up with this issue? How many tax dollars were used trying to figure out this simple issue?

I don't care how many stall or urinals or bathrooms there are. Clean would be nice.

Anywho, wish our tax dollars went towards more important factors here.

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

It's about time that there is going to be an equity of toilets. Now if ALL public areas could do the same, that would be grand.

We also have to remember, that in the days of dual income families, that in the best interest of families, it means that if the company is big enough, offering an onsite day care. I don't see what's wrong with having a daycare close to where the mother is.

for staff/employees, there could be a discount in fees, and for being an exemplary worker, maybe be able to get a free week rather than the "employee of the month parking space".

A lactation room would be great, because unlike what is being implied, it's not paying for other's children, it's like offering the mother a break to ensure proper nutrition for her babies. I'd rather have that than to give smokers their breaks. I'm sure a productive mom is still more beneficial than costly. Smokers cost.

pj dickenson
pj dickenson7 years ago

I gotta agree with William on this one folks.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons7 years ago

In europe they have unisex bathrooms so I assume they don't have this problem. I do not like urinals and avoid them when I can.

Tekla Drakfrende
Tekla Drakfrende7 years ago

a small but good step!