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【SDG 5】More than just a gender-friendly restroom! New Taipei City's all-gender restroom with parental care functions and accessibility for all ages

2022-03-31
In 2019, the New Taipei City government built the first public all-gender restroom at the first floor of New Taipei City Plaza. This year, the New Taipei City government installed an all-gender restroom with parental care functions and accessibility for all ages within the B1 underground passage of New Taipei City Plaza. The restroom is the first in the city to be awarded the "all-gender toilet" label.

On March 30, New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-Ih mounted the indication plate of the restroom in person. The restroom was opened as part of the city government's efforts to comprehensively improve the aesthetics and safety of public restrooms, such that citizens can use restrooms with ease. 

Mayor Hou said that the newly renovated all-gender restroom, which can be shared by all people, corresponded to the #BreakTheBias theme of International Women's Day. New Taipei City is not only making efforts to eliminate bias but also embracing multiple, ethnically integrated groups.

The process of renovating restrooms, from the implementation of renovation to the deployment of teams, requires multiple integrated partnerships. In addition to the interdepartmental coordination among the Secretariat, Social Welfare Department, and Department of Environmental Protection, the Miso Soup Design team was responsible for restroom planning, Hocheng Corporation (HCG) donated relevant fixtures, the Kirakira brand installed a feminine hygiene product delivery machine, and women’s groups and groups for people with disabilities were invited to participate in test runs and feedback collection sessions to improve the overall service quality of restrooms.

With the aim of becoming an international metropolis, New Taipei City is gradually introducing policies related to sustainability, diversity, and equality. Every aspect of the lives of its citizens matters to the city government.    
 
Safety-oriented removal of the wall between men's and ladies' rooms to provide independent spaces for every individual
At the fountain area of the B1 level of New Taipei City Plaza, the union station structure and the large-scale events that are frequently held there attract a considerable number of people, resulting in a high demand for restrooms.

The New Taipei City government renovated the restrooms located under the stairway on both sides, which had increased the risk of a security breach. The restrooms there are no longer separated by gender, but by user needs. Individual compartments are provided for each urinal, squat or sitting toilet, changing room, care bed, and parental care toilet. This design ensures the privacy of all restroom users.   
 
Gender segregated restrooms are neither safe nor comfortable
To build the all-gender restroom, the shield at the entrance was removed, and the original non-square space with multiple blind corners was redesigned to create a straight path. After renovation, a tool room and spacious accessible restroom spaces with lucent environments were built to effectively increase restroom safety and address public concerns.

In addition, three safety mechanisms were deployed. First, compartment partition walls that reach the ceiling and floor were installed to ensure user privacy. Second, emergency call bells were installed to facilitate immediate responses by the central control room. Third, surveillance cameras were installed at the access point of the restroom to ensure environmental safety.

The common sinks were designed to facilitate space utilization and reduce waiting times. Furthermore, a vegetation wall was installed to improve the air quality. Humidity, odor, and toilet paper management devices were installed to increase the quality of services.

Zhan Ming-ni, a designer from the Miso Soup Design team that was responsible for the renovation project, indicated that their design is more than just a gender-neutral design; their aim was to develop an inclusive design for people of all ages and to create public restrooms with improved comfort.
 
Emergency relief policy to implement menstrual equity in response to International Women's Day
The New Taipei City government responded to the #BreakTheBias theme proposed for International Women's Day by installing a machine that supplies multiple feminine hygiene products. Named "Red Delivery: Menstrual Diversity Support Service," the machine provides support services for women who experience unexpected periods as if they receive an emergency "delivery" for their "red" surprise. The machine helps a diverse range of users to access emergency relief services that promote menstrual equity.

Tseng Ying-fan, founder of the Kirakira brand, which sponsored the machine, said Red Delivery is the first system that provides smart support services and feminine hygiene products free of charge in Taiwan. By addressing the emergency needs of women with respect to such products and promoting menstrual empowerment education, Tseng hopes to eliminate public bias against menstruation.
 
Sustainable value promotes public–private partnership and creates a virtuous cycle for public policies
To support the sustainability efforts of New Taipei City, the local enterprise HCG donated toilets, faucets, accessible sinks, and other fixtures to support favorable ideas regarding public restrooms and to provide services to the public.

Secretariat Director General Yao Ching-yu stated that public restrooms are a reflection of public policies. On the basis of sustainability considerations, the New Taipei City government constructed a public restroom that "leaves no one behind" and welcomes all sexes and genders while meeting parental care, accessibility, and older adult needs.

This public restroom is a result of the gender equality spotlight project promoted by the Social Welfare Department, and it received the first gender-friendly restroom label, which was awarded by the Department of Environmental Protection. With the fixtures donated by HCG and the promotion of menstrual equity by the nonprofit organization Not So Tiny, the public restroom provides citizen-friendly software and hardware that helps it to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The New Taipei City government will hold an international forum called "ING New Taipei City Sustainability in Progress" on the eve of Earth Day in April. New Taipei City will share its experiences with sustainable operations with other cities. 


Note: The New Taipei City Gender Friendly Restroom Label Application Plan lists gender equality, user privacy, and restroom safety and hygiene as evaluation items. Administrative units under the New Taipei City government can take gender friendliness into consideration when they are building new restrooms or renovating existing restrooms and applying to the Department of Environmental Protection, New Taipei City, for the label; they should work together to promote the gender-friendly concept of "Removing gender discrimination and promoting friendliness."

Competent Authority: The Secretariat
 
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  • New Taipei City Application Plan for All Gender Restroom Labels
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  • New Taipei City Guidelines for Establishing All Gender Restrooms
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