Today is International Women’s Day, and its theme this year is #EmbraceEquity. What does this mean? The International Women’s Day website says that “… it’s critical to understand the difference between equity and equality,” and that the aim of this year’s IWD is “… to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough.”
According to the dictionary, the term ‘equity’ refers to fairness and justice. Where equality means providing the same for everyone without discrimination, equity means recognising that people start from different places and so, according to the IWD narrative, “… true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.” Their demand is for a world that is inclusive and equitable, where difference is recognised, and all needs addressed in a way that is relative and fair.
We know that for women across the world and all sectors of society things are very much less than equitable, and that the lack of a level playing field makes it difficult for women to move ahead – particularly women in midlife and beyond. So what can we do? Recognising the capabilities and achievements of women is a good place to start.
If you go back over the centuries, there are a significant number of outstandingly successful and powerful women who challenged the political landscape as leaders, or whose achievements shaped the course of history with their strength, determination and passion. It continues with each generation and the list of today’s young women emerging as leaders is growing; Malala Yousafzai speaking out for education and rights for girls, and Greta Thunberg as a powerful global voice for climate change, to name just a couple.
The problem we face is that, despite examples of prominent women throughout the years and the upcoming young voices for change, this is still not considered the norm in what essentially remains a man’s world. And there is the first major piece of uneven ground still to be levelled. Then we have to consider right across the globe the different starting points for every woman, and the challenges many face. Gender-equal rights and opportunities are an unquestionable given, but the route to these and what they need will differ in order to reach an equal outcome of success.
IWD offer a great example as a simple explanation of exactly what they want to embrace this year: “Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.” It’s about being inclusive and understanding the needs of every woman, about valuing diversity and supporting difference. And it’s not just about the women around us, the local communities we live in, and our own place in society; it’s about working together to create an equal world.
It is exactly this thinking that led me to start the PRO AGE movement at Studio10. I’m constantly trying to challenge stereotypes, gender inequalities, misguided narratives, and break down any bias that holds us back. So let’s get fully behind #EmbraceEquity for International Women’s Day 2023. Give Equity an enormous embrace and truly support the uplifting and perfect notion of an inclusive world.