Female flight attendants working for Japan Airlines would next month be allowed to wear trousers and abandon high heels, the company said on Thursday, after a feminist campaign took off.
The airline became one of the first major Japanese firms to announce the shift after a campaign known as #KuToo last year rejected mandatory high heels at work, drawing more than 32,000 signatures in an online petition.
The campaign is part of a wider feminism movement in Japan, with Japan Airlines saying that the new policy was aimed at boosting a “diverse working environment.”
“This will be the first time to introduce trousers and to provide additional options for footwear,” spokesman Mark Morimoto said in an e-mail.
The change would allow nearly 6,000 female crew members to choose footwear that “best fits their needs,” with or without heels, the airline said.
The #KuToo campaign has highlighted the rigid beauty standards on women in Japan, ranked 121st out of 153 nations in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap index.
The hashtag is a play on the Japanese words for shoe, kutsu, and pain, kutsuu.
It was started by actress and activist Yumi Ishikawa, who took to Twitter about being forced to wear high heels for a part-time job at a funeral parlor.
“It’s a great step given that Japan Airlines is such a big company,” Ishikawa said, adding that firms should prioritize women’s health and safety.
“It’s not only airlines — there are also hotels, department stores, banks and a lot of other companies with this requirement. I hope they follow this example,” she added.
In another social media outcry, Japanese women in November last year took to Twitter to demand the right to wear glasses to work, after reports that employers were imposing bans.
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