Activism

Japanese Woman Launches #KuToo Movement to Fight Sexist Dress Code

Japanese women are calling for a ban on high heel dress codes required in many workplaces.

32-year-old actress and writer Yumi Ishikawa submitted a petition that garnered nearly 20,000 signatures to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare on June 3, 2019.

“Many people need to realize there is a fundamental sexual discrimination,” she explained. “We need to be angry about this. But we’ve been taught to live with it for many years.”

The petition called to ban mandatory high heel dress codes in the workplace in a campaign called #KuToo. The name is a play on the Japanese words for shoes “kutsu” and pain “kutsuu.” The campaign stems from Ishikawa’s viral tweets in February 2019 where she tweeted that her employer at a funeral home required women employees to wear high heels. She also cited health concerns, including bunions, foot pain, and hip stress.

Other Japanese women have voiced similar concerns about the painful side effects of wearing heels for long periods of time.

Japan ranked 110th out of 149 countries in a 2018 study on the global gender gap that examined areas like health, politics, education, and the economy.

Actress Nicola Thorp started a similar campaign in the UK in 2016 after she was fired for refusing to wear high heels.

In partnership with TIME’S UP.