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  • Writer's pictureJay Thandi

#EmbraceEquity - International Womens Day 2023

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

International Women's Day is celebrated annually on March 8th to commemorate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and to call for gender equality. The theme of International Women's Day varies from year to year, but the overarching goal is to promote women's rights and empowerment globally.

The history of International Women's Day dates back to 1908 when a group of women in New York City organized a demonstration to demand better working conditions, voting rights, and equal pay for women. The idea quickly spread, and by 1911, International Women's Day was celebrated in several European countries.

So why is this day so important? International Women's Day is important because it provides a platform to highlight the ongoing struggle for gender equality and to raise awareness of the challenges that women face globally. It serves as a reminder of the progress that has been made in women's rights and the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality.

International Women's Day is an important occasion to promote gender equality, celebrate the achievements of women, and call for continued progress towards a more just and equitable world for all. Which brings us on to the IWD 2023 campaign theme: #EmbraceEquity.

According to, “the campaign aims to encourage important conversations on Why equal opportunities aren't enough and Why equal isn't always fair. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action”.

What does “equality versus equity” mean?

The terms "equality" and "equity" are often used in discussions about social justice and fairness, but they have different meanings.

Equality refers to treating everyone the same regardless of their differences. In other words, equality assumes that everyone has the same starting point and the same needs, so everyone should be treated identically.

Equity, on the other hand, recognizes that different people have different needs and circumstances, and therefore require different treatment to achieve fairness. Equity is about providing people with the resources and support they need to achieve equal outcomes.

To illustrate the difference between equality and equity, imagine a scenario where three people of different heights are trying to watch a baseball game over a fence. If they are all given the same size box to stand on, the tallest person can see over the fence, the middle-height person can barely see, and the shortest person can't see at all. This is equality, but it doesn't result in fair outcomes. In contrast, if the shortest person is given a taller box than the other two, everyone can see the game equally well.

This is equity, where each person has been given what they need to have the same experience.

In short, equality means treating everyone the same, while equity means giving everyone what they need to be successful. The distinction is important because not everyone starts from the same place or faces the same barriers, and treating everyone equally may not lead to fair outcomes. By recognizing and addressing those differences, equity can help level the playing field and ensure that everyone has a fair shot at success.

So what does “equality versus equity” mean, in the workplace?

In the context of the workplace, "equality versus equity" means the difference between treating all employees the same versus recognizing and addressing the different needs and circumstances of individual employees to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and outcomes.

Treating all employees equally means giving everyone the same opportunities, resources, and benefits regardless of their individual differences or circumstances. However, this approach may not lead to fair outcomes, as some employees may face systemic or individual barriers that prevent them from accessing those opportunities.

Equity in the workplace involves recognizing and addressing those barriers and providing additional support or resources to those who need it. For example, it may involve providing accommodations for employees with disabilities, offering flexible work arrangements for employees with caregiving responsibilities, or implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives to address systemic biases.

The bottom line is: while equality in the workplace aims to treat everyone the same, equity recognizes that not everyone starts from the same place and may require different support and resources to achieve the same outcomes. By promoting equity in the workplace, employers can create a more inclusive and fair environment where all employees can thrive.

But how do we improve gender equity in the workplace?

Improving gender equity in the workplace requires a concerted effort by employers to address systemic biases, discrimination, and unequal access to opportunities and resources. Some strategies to improve gender equity in the workplace include:

  1. Address unconscious bias: Employers can provide training to help employees recognize and address their unconscious biases. This can help ensure that all employees are evaluated based on their skills, experience, and qualifications, rather than their gender or other personal characteristics

  2. Promote diversity and inclusion: Employers can actively recruit and retain women and other underrepresented groups in the workplace, and create a welcoming and inclusive workplace culture. This can help ensure that everyone feels valued and respected, and has the opportunity to succeed.

  3. Provide equal pay and benefits: Employers can ensure that their pay and benefits structures are fair and equitable for all employees, regardless of their gender. This may involve conducting a pay equity analysis and providing equal access to benefits such as healthcare, retirement, and time off.

  4. Offer flexible work arrangements: Employers can offer flexible work arrangements such as remote work, flexible schedules, or job sharing to accommodate the diverse needs and circumstances of their employees. This can help reduce barriers to employment and ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities.

  5. Create mentorship and sponsorship programs: Employers can create mentorship and sponsorship programs to support the professional development and advancement of women and other underrepresented groups. This can help provide opportunities for career growth and increase diversity in leadership positions.

  6. Provide adjustments and accessibility: Employers can ensure that their workplace is accessible and provides adjustments for employees with disabilities. This may include providing assistive technologies, accessible facilities, and training for managers and coworkers on how to support employees with disabilities.

By implementing these strategies, employers can create a more equitable workplace where all employees, regardless of their gender, have the opportunity to succeed and thrive. Ultimately, creating gender equity in the workplace benefits everyone by promoting fairness, diversity, and inclusion.

By promoting equity in the workplace and society at large, we can create a more just and inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of their gender or other personal characteristics.

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