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Women deserve equity as much as equality

Anjola Fashawe/YJI

LONDON – The notion of ‘equality’ is often associated with giving women the same opportunities that men already have, such as higher job salaries or access to health-care.

But this idea of ‘equality’ falls flat when we fail to factor in the layers of barriers that impact the ability for women to achieve equality. Ethnicity, class and disabilities are just some examples.

Equity needs to be a vocal point when we talk about the best way to empower women. 

But what is equity? In broad terms, equity is ‘being just and fair.’ 

This differs from equality, which focuses on giving women equal opportunities and rights to men. 

In today’s society, women are seen to be more empowered than ever. Movements like #MeToo and the rise of feminism have enabled women to fight to not just have their voices heard, but to be listened to. 

Women are viewed as growing closer to having equality to men, but the issue is that this idea of equality tends to focus on allowing women to operate within a male-dominated society.

Today, women still experience period poverty across the world and sexual harassment on terrifying levels. It is difficult to argue women are equal to men when many women do not feel the same sense of safety men do. 

Arguably, the idea of equality focuses on a Western society. Women and girls who are not from western countries can still be forced to conform to gender stereotypes. 

We cannot also compare all women equally when all women are different.

A woman with a physical disability faces different barriers to a woman who is able-bodied. Similarly, a Black woman can face racial discrimination on top of sexist discrimination.

This is why equity is so important to ensure all women are given not merely equal access, but equal accommodations to their individual barriers. 

Equity is a vital part of empowering women to ensure equality can truly be brought. We must realize that women face different barriers and that access to equal opportunities does not automatically mean inclusion.

We cannot bring equality without first acknowledging equity – the two go hand in hand.

#EmbraceEquity was the theme for International Women’s Day this year.

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, it is important we #EmbraceEquity now to ensure women can truly be empowered and be able to express their human rights without the restrictions. 

Anjola Fashawe is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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