Re-examining Equality: A New Way Forward
As we celebrate International Women’s day, we’re at a juncture where we need to assess the fundamental structures upon which we stand and talk about the position of marginality in the context of women movements around the globe. We are still utterly astounded by the practice of treating everyone equally without probing deeper questions about the background of the individual we’re talking about. The background consists of one’s social class, gender identity, privilege and many such sociological factors which are often thrown out of the window and are not given due considerations when equality is being discussed.
We shall be asking everyone around us to define what ‘success’ and ‘fairness’ really mean when we have not reconciled the due regards for the differences that we see every day. The bridge between the ground reality and the practice of equality can be crossed if we understand the fundamental difference between the terms ‘Equality’ and ‘Equity’ and in doing so, take a step forward towards better conditions for everyone around us. ‘Equality’ aims at promoting fairness and treating everyone the same regardless of their social position in society. ‘Equity’ on the other hand, points towards giving everyone what they need in order to be successful. On the surface, Equity may sound as unfair but upon a deeper understanding, it fulfills the material conditions of the individual which after achieving provides a fertile ground for a level playing field.
Equality by its very definition works only if we have a level playing field for both parties, which means material conditions of the said parties are already fulfilled. Which through a minimal understanding of our society, we will find that is far distant from reality. Once the basic demands are met then providing fair treatment regardless of one’s social factors can come into play. Equity aims to achieve this level playing field which equality fails to take into consideration. Equity celebrates the differences and diversity of society and establishes that despite the multiple variations, we can achieve a democratic understanding which embraces plurality. The term equity refers to the system of fairness and justice, where there is an even-handed treatment of all. Under this system, the individual needs and requirements are paid the attention they deserve. Equality on the other hand grants the same rights and responsibilities, irrespective of the variability of the individuals involved.
Equal treatment of all the citizenry is indeed the sustaining quality of any democratic society which aims to get rid of discriminatory practices and wishes to provide a society filled with opportunities. The idea of equity, on the other hand encompasses the gap which equality supposedly leaves behind despite the variations in races, genders or social classes. Equity demands fairness in every situation, whether it is the distribution of benefits or the dispensations of detriments. Thus, people are treated fairly but with the due considerations as their circumstances are given the due weight. As an extension, it is natural that such regards will provide a fair chance to all individuals with equal opportunity, to let their wings soar high in the sky. In this way, equity ensures that all the individuals are provided with the resources they need to have access to the same opportunities, as the general population. This re-examination of the social terms we use casually provides a suitable insight into treating everyone in a democratic manner and thus making all of us better citizens every day.