Editor’s Note. This post is written by our program coordinator, Christian Sackey-Acquah. The Exploratory is keen to have our staff, teachers, partners and students, female and male, become champions in their work, community, classrooms for girls and women. As such, it is important to reflect on issues of equity and equality, with the first being an important instrument to rectify current conditions to achieve the latter. We are pleased to hear about Christian’s own journey towards advocacy and action in gender equity. P.S. Christian also just participated in his graduation ceremony for his Bachelor’s degree last week. Congratulations!
One unforgettable moment in my academic life is the day my lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Abdul Nasiru made a shocking revelation on the distinction between equity and equality. His words sounded outrageous and confusing at the time because until then I had known both concepts to mean the same. My inability to agree with and accept this new fact challenged me to do a little reading on both concepts to ascertain if indeed there was such a difference.
My quest for knowledge rather crowned my lecturer victor as I came across this fine and brilliant quote by Cynthia Silva Parker which did not only prove Dr. Nasiru right but also gave me the clearest delineation between these two concepts: equity and equality. According to Parker,
In the simplest terms, equity means fairness, which is not necessarily the same thing as equality. It’s not about everybody getting the same thing, it’s about everybody getting what they need in order to improve the quality of their situation.
For the purpose of this article, I also went round interviewing quite a number of people on the same subject matter to find out how they also understand the concepts of gender equity and gender equality. Here are a few interesting responses I gathered:
- Gender equality is simply giving equal opportunities to both sexes. Norita Agyei Peprah, Kidcity, Accra
- Gender equity is where there is a balance in the kind of opportunities that are made available to human beings irrespective of their sexes. Jonathan Aherdemla. Teacher, Berekuso Basic School
- Gender equity to me simply means opportunity for all to have what they deserve and not what they want irrespective of their gender. Boapeah Ohenebeng. National Service Personnel, University of Ghana
- Gender equity means treating people fair not considering their gender. Daniel Danquah. Student, University of Ghana Medical School.
- It is basically the process of ensuring that both men and women have equal access to political, social, economic, health and educational opportunities. Abigail. Student, University of Ghana
By applying Parker’s definition to the issue of gender, I am tempted to conclude that there is also a clear difference between gender equality and gender equity. Whereas gender equality may imply treating both males and females the same way, gender equity on the other hand may imply giving to both gender groups according to what they need to achieve their full potentials.
From this we realize that as equality stands for evenness, equity stands for fairness and that is the more reason why I would opt for gender equity. Fairness is necessary to create a level playing ground for both males and females to ensure that everybody has equal access to opportunities that can help them live up to their aspirations.
Gender equity is a course worth pursuing not because of its ‘fairness’ element but also because of its great effect on creating social harmony as well as national development.
I am glad to have discovered the difference between gender equity and gender equality because of the lasting impact it has had on me.
Three Women: USAID.gov
Gender Equality Goal: UN.org
Equity – Equality: WE with Gender Equality