I came across this artcile in the Daily Telegraph and thought I would comment on it as it is a topic dear to my, er, heart!
I jest, but I do genuinely believe that women are underserved in the public toilet stakes. I fully support those women (and count myself as one) who nip into the men’s room (unless you are intoxicated this is usually a very messy and pungent experience) because they are just fed up of waiting.
I would also like to add that the group of people who suffer the most in terms of these facilities is not women, but babies and toddlers. Since moving to the US I have been astounded at the lack of adequate toilet facilities for babies – nevermind breastfeeding mothers. Not only are the baby facilities almost exclusively in the women’s toilet – and then in the disabled cubicle, when there is one – but it solely consists of one pull-down, very hard, changing table with a safety strap. It is usually dirty.
Given the gargantuan size of most American shopping malls is it really too difficult to provide a decent baby changing area which is clean, accessible for fathers, and contains a separate area for nursing mothers?
On this point I would like to single out the John Lewis store at the end of Prince’s Street in Edinburgh – they have THE best baby changing facilties I have ever come across. They had a whole room which contained:
– three changing stations (one a pull-out boo!). Two consisted of padded areas with adjacent sinks. There were rolls of paper to put down over the changing area ( for cleanliness) and sanitising equipment.
– large bins for waste disposal
– electric heaters for bottled milk/formula
– about fifteen chairs to sit in whilst you fed your baby or other children waited
– a separate, secluded, area in case you wanted to breastfeed in private
– NO ADULT TOILETS!!!! Which vastly improves the cleanliness of these facilities
– an added bonus of a lovely view across Edinburgh!
– oh, and not to forget it was accessible to fathers as well as mothers. Thank goodness.
And I didn’t have to pay a penny to use it.
I would like to add an honourable mention to Boots the chemist in Aberdeen which had a ‘mother’s room’ (poor show) which did include similar changing stations and had a nursing area, but which also supplied nappies/diapers in case you had run out! No charge for this. They didn’t quite impress me as much as the room was not as clean as I would like and the bins very definitely needed emptying. But that said, I think I would break down and cry in delight if I found something similar in and around Washington DC.