Lux, the Unilever-owned haircare brand, is tapping into issues around gender inequality in Japan, following research that sought to decode an apparent ambivalence towards the topic.

Japan ranks near the bottom of the World Economic Forum’s gender inequality index, largely because of a lack of political empowerment and, to a lesser extent, economic participation.

But an Ipsos survey across 27 countries found the Japanese were the least likely to agree (36%) with the statement: “Achieving gender equality is important to me, personally” (41% of women agreed, 31% of men agreed).

At the same time, Japanese men and women seem to agree that not enough progress has been made in addressing issues of gender inequality: in the Ipsos survey, both Japanese men and women were the least likely to agree with the statement: “When it comes to giving women equal rights with me, things have gone far enough in my country” (13% of women agreed, 25% of men agreed).

Lux undertook its own qualitative and quantitative research to explore how gender inequality is or is not understood and experienced by Japanese men and women. (For more details, read the ESOMAR paper in full: Lux: Shrugging off gender inequality – decoding ambivalence towards gender inequality in Japan.)

“Within Japanese society, the combination of how issues of ‘gender inequality’ are framed, along with the cultural context, and reinforced by the institutional and social context, work in conjunction to limit ideas about what men and women can do and be,” the authors report.

They also observed a generational divide in attitudes, with younger age groups pushed in two directions: “between systems and structures based on former realities and traditional value systems, and an economy that often requires a two-income family and greater flexibility in strict gender roles at home.”

Ultimately, they suggest, “economic necessity will drive behaviour change which will result in new values, aspirations and beliefs”.

Lux is stepping into this conversation with its “shine with no limits” campaign that portrays alternative roles and pathways for women, including a female drummer in a band and a “calligraffiti” artist who started her own genre of art with the fusion of calligraphy and graffiti instead of fitting into the traditionally male-dominated field of calligraphy.

Simply talking about gender equality is not enough, the authors state, and Lux will seek to be an “active agent” in society and tap into the specific issues that hold women back.

Sourced from ESOMAR