Today is International Women’s Day, with this year’s theme being #EmbraceEquity. This is to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough – and can in fact be exclusionary, rather than inclusive. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging requires equitable action. This is an important and relevant theme for the work we do at Lifestart.
The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. Yet, despite their similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts. So, what’s different about them? And why is it important to understand, acknowledge and value this?
Let’s start with a basic definition of each word.
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the individual resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome – giving everyone what they need to be successful. In other words, it’s not giving everyone the exact same thing. If we give everyone the exact same thing, expecting that will make people equal, it assumes that everyone started out in the same place – and this can be vastly inaccurate because everyone isn’t the same.
In light of this, the concept of ‘fairness’ can get tricky as it’s often assumed that ‘being fair’ means that everybody gets the same thing. Often, this has been taught when we were growing up, but ‘fairness‘ really only works when we’re all the same to start out with.
In political terms, equality is one of the foundations of democracy. Equality is based on the belief that all people should have the same opportunities for a happy life. Equity is linked to the ideal that success is based on personal efforts and not social status.
However, ongoing conversation highlights whether equality is enough, and if instead we should look towards equity as a better principle to progress society. Equity acknowledges that people don’t begin life in the same place, and that circumstances can make it more difficult for people to achieve the same goals.
Inequity affects many people, but most commonly historically it has marginalized communities, including those with disability, alongside many groups such as women, people of color, the economically disadvantaged, and those from the LGBTQ+ community.
The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people’s ability to thrive.
Equity-based verses equality-based solutions
People who push for equality-based solutions to social issues may believe in impartiality, and that there should be no difference in services and policies.
However, equity-based solutions take into account the diverse lived experiences of individuals and communities, adapting services and policies according to these differences. Equity is a long-term and sustainable solution, and is a process for addressing imbalanced social systems.
This is what International Women’s Day 2023 is all about – and it’s a pertinent theme to our work at Lifestart. As our message today on social media says:
Today, on #Internationalwomensday we’re celebrating all the amazing girls and young women with disability we work with here at Lifestart. Our organisation was founded on the idea that inclusion is essential for young people to thrive, and our model recognises that what this requires is different based on each individual’s circumstances and needs. We #EmbraceEquity
Please share this important message on your social networks today via our linkedin, facebook or instagram. And have a happy International Women’s Day!