A Chinese shopping mall has installed a zone of wider parking spaces reserved for women in an effort to cater for female drivers who have trouble parking.

The zone, marked with a sign reading: “Respectfully reserved for women”, is situated outside the World Metropolis (Dashijiedaduhui) centre in Dalian. It features 10 parking spaces that are painted pink and are around 30cm wider than normal.

It is the latest in a string of women-only zones to have emerged in car parks across China, where the middle class is bulging and more people have the income necessary to buy and drive vehicles.

The pink-ringed parking spaces have sparked debate in China, which officially embraces gender equality but where old-fashioned sexism is rife in reality.

The World Metropolis, situated in the centre of the northern port city, is among thousands of retail complexes that have sprouted across the country as part of a vast urbanisation drive.

According to its management, the plus-sized, women-only spaces were created outside its main entrance after female drivers experienced trouble parking in the standard basement slots.

“I think this is convenient,” user Yong Mei told AFP. “Other parking spaces are too narrow.”

But the spaces have provoked outrage on social media – with many accusing the shopping centre of sexism and cliched thinking. – Daily Mail