The increasing prevalence of women-only services
16-Jul-2017


In Dubai, a pink ambulance which exclusively serves women can now be seen driving around the Deira district responding to emergency calls. In June, the government launched the Women Responders unit, a pilot program which consists of four women in pink who remain on standby twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Consisting of two medics and two drivers specialized in obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics, the program aims to expedite medical care by helping female patients feel more at ease. 

This new service is just one of many in the Emirate which are offered exclusively to women by the government and private sector. In 2007 Dubai launched the “Ladies and Families Taxis,” a fleet of pink-roof taxis driven by women for women and children. The city’s metro has a women-only carriage marked by pink signs on the floor of each station. There are hotels with women-only floors and plans to open a women-only hotel with 80 per cent female staff by the year’s end. In October 2016 Dubai inaugurated the Medcare Women & Children Hospital in October 2016, the first specialty hospital run largely by women. 87 per cent of the hospital’s 500 staff are female and the hospital is aiming for 100%.

There are some critics who take issue with the “pinking” of services, saying they reinforce inequality or even discriminate against men. The term “pinking” has been used in the consumer industry to refer to products which are “designed” exclusively for women, although they may be a product that is ordinarily used by men as well. Yet outside the Middle East, the possibility of finding services that only cater to women is relatively rare, save for salons and specialty hospitals. The one exception seems to be public transportation: cities across the globe, from East to West, have launched women-only taxi services, subway cars, and designated bus seats. The “pinking” of transportation services elsewhere is mostly a response to the ever-growing problem of sexual harassment and assault, rather than traditional values. 

Although the pinking of products is ridiculous and usually provides no added value, the pinking of services for women has proved to be popular wherever it is offered. In three weeks, the Women Responder’s Unit responded to 25 callouts. Women’s-only services provide efficiency and comfort, as well as more tailored experiences for women’s needs. They provide safety. Furthermore, when they are provided by women only they create jobs and opportunities. There is no denying the positive impact these services have for both the women who use them and those who provide them.


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