It’s international women’s day, and the theme for this year is “Embrace Equity.”
The purpose of women's day is to support women’s rights and celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and struggles of women across various sectors.
If we want a truly inclusive world, simply focusing on equality is not enough. We need more - we need equity.
Although we often interchange equality and equity, it is important to understand their difference
When we talk about equality, it means we treat everyone the same. Every person, regardless of their background and situation, gets access to the same set of resources.
Equity takes things a step further. Equity means that people get resources based on their needs and their circumstances to achieve an equal outcome. To achieve equality, we need equity.
Let's look at an example.
You have two children, Jane and Joe, and you want to give both of them a meal.
You decide to give them both a peanut butter sandwich, to be fair to both of them. This would be equality. However, Jane is allergic to peanuts! This means a peanut butter sandwich would not help her, and our outcome is not equal - Joe gets a satisfying snack, but Jane does not.
Instead, if we consider Jane’s needs, we can give her a different snack so that both of them end up with a satisfying meal. This would be equity.
Now let’s see why we need equity for women's empowerment. Women often face several disadvantages at the workplace-underrepresentation, the wage gap, balancing the responsibilities of work and family, etc. are just some of the issues women face at work.
Although more and more organizations have acknowledged the need to put effort into encouraging and retaining women at work, there is still a long way to go.
More than creating opportunities, we need to work towards implementing innovative solutions to assist women in the workplace.
Rather than implementing a one-size-fits-all solution, we need to look deeper and start understanding what women need if we want a truly equal society.
Many women step back from their careers for personal reasons, maternity, or to take care of family. Creating jobs for sabbatical women is one way to help, but is that all they need? These women often feel apprehensive about returning to the workplace after a long gap. They often do not feel confident since they are not up-to-date with new technologies. Instead, giving them guidance to ease into the changing market, build their confidence, help them upskill, and get up to date on the latest technologies, etc., would be a more effective way to help them.
Many working women who have to handle responsibilities at home and work often need to be available to take care of situations in the office as well as handle home needs -managing their own routine, or taking care of their kids, families, etc.
For these women, maybe flexible work hours and hybrid work models, giving them opportunities to speak up and express their ideas and opinions too, can be helpful to retain them.
Thus, the first step to building an equal society free from bias is to start taking action through equity.
About the Author
Meghana Ganesh is a Community Manager at Her Second Innings. She is a Computer Science Graduate with a passion for women’s empowerment and equality, and diversity hiring in organizations.
Her Second Innings supports women professionals on a sabbatical in their journey of getting back to work. The mission of HSI is to guide women to achieve financial independence. Support from HSI comes in the form of job interviews, reskilling programs in Automation and, free Career Guidance Counselling. Sign up with us and complete your profile to get a call from our counselors to know your job fit.
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