What is the difference between Equality and Equity? IWD 2023

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International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 has chosen the theme of #EmbraceEquity to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of equity in creating positive change. This theme will be used to highlight the need for an inclusive society where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their gender, race, or ethnicity.

The concept of Equity is often confused with Equality. While both are important components in creating a just society, they have different meanings. Equality means that everyone should be treated equally and receive equal rights and opportunities, while Equity means that everyone should receive what they need to succeed based on their individual circumstances.

Let’s break this down:

Source: Angus Maguire for the Interaction Institute for Social Change

EQUALITY = Sameness

Equality promotes fairness and justice by giving everyone the same thing. BUT, it can only work if everyone starts from the same place. Simply put, equality only works if everyone is the same height.


Equity = Fairness

Equity is about making sure people get the access to the same opportunities. Sometimes our differences or history can create barriers to participation, so we must FIRST ensure EQUITY before we can enjoy equality.

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“Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.”

Examples of key differences:

Tamara Makoni from Kazuri Consulting

Tamara Makoni from Kazuri Consulting in Belgium is an expert at making people understand the distinction between equality & equity and how embracing equity can make an immense difference. The YouTuber shares her insights on this issue in a powerful way that will leave you with new perspectives.

“Imagine that you are babysitting two children, and they are hungry. You go to the fruit bowl, and you start to pick up two apples to give them to each child. However, you remember at the last moment that one of the children is allergic to apples. Instead, you reach for one apple and one banana, and that way you’re being fair,” explains Tamara. “You still give one piece of fruit to each child, but you’re also being equitable because you’re giving each child a legitimate way of satisfying their hunger. If you had gone for two apples, the child who’s allergic to the apple would on the surface have a way to satisfy their hunger, but they couldn’t do that without getting ill. In this way you’re being fair,” says Tamara. “You’re giving each child a piece of fruit but, you’re also giving them something that is in line with their individual needs so they can be successful.”

Jennifer Willey, CEO of Wet Cement.

Let yourself be educated by Jennifer Willey. As Founder of Wet Cement, Jenn is proud to be one of only 50 U.S. CEOs leading a Disability-Owned and Woman-Owned certified business. Her inspirational story of her unique career journey, coupled with research insights is enough to change anyone’s mindset.

“Value talent based on talent. Research shows men are considered for promotions based on their potential and women based on their proven experience for what is needed in the role. Let’s start making this a level playing field. Evaluate everyone on both their relevant skills and potential. And if you’re a woman, proactively address both demonstrated performance and potential with the hiring manager.”

In this post, we tried to emphasise the fundamental differences between equality and equity, and provided key insights into the difference between the two. We also explored the potential outcomes and effects that can arise from an emphasis on gender equity in today’s environment, providing plenty of examples and information that should help shed some light on why it’s so important.

Equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA. And it’s critical to understand the difference between equity and equality.

The fight for gender equity doesn’t end on March 8th. It continues for everyone and every day. Australia has the opportunity to embrace genuine equity in the years ahead, even though it will be a long process that requires work and dedication. But if we’re serious about this, then our future will be bright.


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