It all began with the viral image of one man squatting in a men's room to change his kid's diaper.
Changing a baby's diaper in public could be a daunting task especially if you are a father. This is so because washrooms have not been constructed keeping fathers in mind. Be it a mall or an airport, one can find a changing table exclusively in women's restrooms and men usually do not have access to the same space. Changing the baby's diaper is as much a father's job as it is a mother's but the complete absence of basic changing facilities in men's washrooms makes it difficult for them to get the job done.
The lack of changing tables in men's rooms became a genuine concern after this image of a father squatting in a public washroom to change his kid's diaper went viral. The man in the image, Donte Palmer, gained worldwide attention and his Instagram post had people talking about the issue.
Donte captioned the image: This is a serious post!!! What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!! #FLM #fatherslivesmatter clearly we do this often because look how comfortable my son is. It’s routine to him!!!! Let’s fix this problem! I Kaepernick drop a knee to this issue! @theshaderoom let’s show the innovation of fathers! #squatforchange Follow us now!! @3boys_1goal
Donte initiated a #SquatForChange campaign to create awareness and to bring people together on the issue, and his efforts have paid off. As mentioned on the official website of NYC's Governor, "Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the passage of legislation in the FY 2019 Budget to ensure equal access to diaper changing stations and to provide lactation rooms in state buildings that are open to public. The policy is part of the Governor's 2018 Women's Agenda."
Governor Cuomo further said in the statement: "New York proudly leads the nation in fighting for the rights of working parents, and by ensuring access to these amenities, we will help ensure all New Yorkers can give their children the care they need at this critical stage of their lives. This legislation supports our efforts to make New York the nation's model for working parents, and helps make it a stronger, fairer and more equal state for all."
Senator Brad Hoylman said in a statement, "It's not just moms who change diapers. Dads need to step up and do their part of the dirty work, too. By including my bill for requiring baby changing stations in both male and female restrooms in the final budget, Governor Cuomo and the legislature are taking an important step in recognizing changing parental norms, including a new generation of gay dads like me who no longer should have to change their babies on the bathroom floor because there's no changing station in the men's restroom. "
New York, therefore, will be one of the first states in the country to have diaper-changing tables installed in men's rooms in order to promote equal parenting and providing men with the amenities that would help them carry out their parental duties with ease and dignity.
The building codes in the city have been modified to reflect this change and the Mayor office released a statement that said: "There must be at least one changing table accessible to both genders per publicly-accessible floor. Building owners or managers must post clear signs directing the public to the location of the nearest available changing table."
Donte managed to create awareness about the issue, garnered support for his cause, and with people backing his legitimate concern, was able to bring the change that was much needed.