Parenting is hard enough without gender stereotypes getting in the way.
We have all witnessed and related to the struggling parent publically changing their baby's diaper in an unconventional place. Getting out of the house with a newborn is never an easy task—between the extensive preparation and caravan of must-haves. Now add a crying baby with a dirty diaper into the mix and you have yourself a stressful afternoon. That's why fathers everywhere have been outraged by the lack of public childcare resources provided to men that women often benefit from. Thankfully, one New York City Council member Rafael Espinal recognized how inequality is affecting hard-working fathers and actually did something about it. Now both men and women in New York City will always have one public amenity when they need it most—a changing table.
On Monday, December 11th, New York City passed legislation that requires all public restrooms to have changing tables in them. According to HuffPost, Espinal felt passionately about passing the law after witnessing a father change his child's diaper on the sink counter of a mall restroom in Queens. That moment kick-started Espinal's investigation into the lack of public changing tables in New York City—expecially in men's rooms.
“It was terrible to see a father changing his child’s diaper on top of a public sink where hundreds of people wash their hands after using the restroom,” Espinal told HuffPost. “Parents should be changing their children’s diapers with a little more dignity, in a space that’s sanitary.”
Now all new buildings with public restrooms in New York City must install changing tables in both the men's and women's bathrooms, while older buildings must provide the same accommodations after a renovation. New York City is now the first major city in the U.S. to enforce this policy.
This is a huge win for parents of New York City, both women, and men. Changing a baby's dirty diaper is not a responsibility only meant for women—a stigma that is implied by the lack of public changing tables in men's bathrooms. That same way of thinking has been a continual frustration for men who are left without proper equipment to take care of their child while out and about. Not to mention it's wrong to assume that all families have mothers to take care of duties such as this.
Fathers, grandfathers, and male babysitters everywhere can relate to the inconvenience of changing a dirty diaper in a public setting just as much as any woman—if not more. This is a huge win for equality which will hopefully spread quickly throughout the country.