Thousands of women from Japan joined hands to support a social media campaign against dress codes and expectations that women must wear high heels at work has gone viral. 

About 19,000 women united to sign a petition on 3rd June that was launched by Yumi Ishiwaka, a Tokyo artist, writer and feminist after she tweeted about being forced to wear heels at work. Her tweet gained over 67,000 likes and was re-tweeted almost 30,000 times. 

She coined the hashtag #KuToo, which is a combination of two Japanese words- ‘kutsu’ which means shoes and ‘kutsuu’ which means pain. Since then, this hashtag is being used by women to talk about their experiences on social media.

According to sources, the 32-year-old actress Yumi Ishiwaka said that she had to change career paths after having difficulty standing in heels for eight hours during training at a hotel. She submitted a petition signed by more than 19,000 women to the the Labor Ministry. The petition called for a law barring employers from forcing women to wear high heels.

Ms. Yumi’s efforts were greeted with skepticism by the government officials and they are yet to respond to the petition. 

According to sources, an official at the Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s equal employment opportunity division said, “it had no plans to change the rules around whether employers could require staff to wear certain clothes or shoes.” He further added that, “there are currently no laws that restrict companies from regulating employees’ work wear. The official noted that men were also subject to rules, as they were often required to wear ties and leather shoes.”

According to NY Times, after hearing the statement by the government official Yumi said, “I guess the government and corporate communities don’t want to take a risk to change the society.”

While the government officials are still reviewing the petition, here is what Twitter has to say about the #KuToo Movement: 

Currently, Japan ranks 110 out of 147 countries in the World Economic Forum’s index measuring the degree of gender equality and we hope the consideration to the verdict will change for the better.