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Japan's Cabinet Office distributes gender-neutral illustrations to dispel stereotypes

Illustrations of civil engineers, one male and one female (Image courtesy of the Cabinet Office)

TOKYO -- The Cabinet Office has started distributing free illustrations not bound by stereotypical gender roles, such as "men work outside the home while women take care of the home."

    The illustrations include a female pilot and politician, and a male child care worker, and are intended to be used in a wide range of situations, such as for school handouts and company documents.

    There are 40 illustrations, each depicting men and women in professions where there is still a strong sense of gender role division, such as civil engineering and land surveying, and child care workers. They also include images of men and women in various daily life situations, such as cleaning up after meals, taking out the garbage, participating in parent-teacher conferences, and nursing family members.

    The illustrations are not for commercial use, and to download them, you need to register your name, address, e-mail and the purpose of use.

    According to the Cabinet Office's Gender Equality Bureau, this is one initiative based on the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality, which was approved by the Cabinet in December 2020, and distribution of the illustrations began on May 10.

    The plan states that the government "will disseminate information on initiatives that will contribute to the elimination of stereotypical gender role perceptions and prejudices related to gender differences, and that will prevent stereotypes and unconscious bias from arising."

    A spokesperson said, "I think we are often surrounded by stereotypical notions about the roles of men and women. We hope that by having these gender-neutral illustrations used in a variety of materials, people who see them will be inspired to think about the unconscious prejudices that exist in society."

    The illustrations can be downloaded at the Cabinet Office website at (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Maki Nakajima, Digital News Center)

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