Launched by the founder of the #KuToo movement, actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa, the initiative challenges workplace dress codes and urges government to create laws to ban compuslory enforcement of them. The movement’s name is a play on the Japanese words “kutsu” (meaning shoes) and “kutsuu” (meaning pain.)
According to organizers, women are required to wear high heels to interviews in order to be considered for a position and throughout their career in many large companies. Some have compared wearing heel as the modern-day version of “foot binding.”
“I hope this campaign will change the social norm so that it won’t be considered to be bad manners when women wear flat shoes like men,” Ishikawa said.
Taking Back the Streets with Chalk
Catcalls of London, Catcalls of Amsterdam and Catcalls of Paris were some of the first to launch. Soon after, Catcalls of Mauritius, Catcalls of Berlin, Catcalls of Mumbai. Catcalls of Iran. Catcalls of Cape Town, South Africa, and Catcalls of Dhaka, Bangladesh began . Now, there are over 100 programs around the world that also collect stories of harassment and document them on the streets. My idea, which I now call “Chalking Back,” has been a springboard for young activists around the world to fight back against harassment, creatively.
More than half of the women who run these programs are under the age of 18, and 88% of people are under the age of 25. They represent a wide variety of racial and religious groups and, because of them, what was originally a class project has become a global movement. The bravery and commitment of everyone involved in “Chalk Back” has built this movement from the ground up.
Last week, I graduated from New York University (NYU) with a degree in Gender and Sexuality, and after working on this project for three years as a full-time student, I have decided to commit my time to turning “Chalk Back” into an international non-profit to provide additional resources for the movement which will allow it to grow.