You have a Hershey’s cookie and cream in your hand and you have 3 other friends, what do you do? Obviously, you share the 12 parts amongst 4 people equally. You did this to have ‘fairness’ and give everyone an equal treatment. But what if one of your friends had already eaten the same chocolate before he/she met you all?
The question here that I want to ask is that; Do we need to raise voice for equality or equity? Let me break it down for you, by this image:
This images shows that 3 individuals of different height are attempting to peak above the fence. In order to treat each equally, they are all given one box each of same height. However, doing so wouldn’t necessarily help the shortest person and the tallest person has a box even though he doesn’t require it. Therefore for equity, each person would be given a box as per their height.
Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful whereas equality is treating everyone the same. It is the quality of being fair and impartial. It refers to understanding the need of the individuals and treating them accordingly.
Equality aims to promote fairness,it claims that every individual should be granted the same resources and privileges regardless of the differences. But it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same help.
If a teacher is supposed to distribute pencils to the students in the class, she would give each one of the them the same amount of pencils. This is equality. But, if the teacher has to distribute school t-shirts to each student, she cannot give the same sized t-shirt to everyone; she’ll have to make distinctions between different sizes. This is equity.
On the other hand equity appears unfair but it actively helps move everyone near to success by ‘leveling the requirements’. Equality promotes fairness but not everyone starts at the same place, and not everyone has the same needs.
For instance gender equality, it does not aim at both gender possessing same characteristics rather it aims at giving the same opportunities for both to achieve success despite their differences.
Jeremy Dowsett, a writer, says that it feels kind of like riding on roads is meant for cars. Unintentionally, for a biker the road might be dangerous. The automobile bodies of cars and bikes are different which makes the difference. And the truth is that “the whole transportation infrastructure privileges the automobile.”
So the system might not meet everyone’s needs. Can we change the whole system? Rarely. What we can do is advocate for equitable practices in order to promote fairness. Surely, this will require extra work.
The first step to justice is being able to recognize it. Lorde maintains, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
Another everyday example is the race tracks.
The blue runner has a sure advantage over the other runners as it is in the innermost lane which is the shortest distance. As a result, equality – starting at the same place – doesn’t result in fairness.
In contrast, the concept of equity, would lead the starting positions of the runners in order to offset the disadvantages facing for red and yellow person. In this case, different treatment is a surer path to fairness and justice than the same treatment.
Some people, like the runners in the outside lanes of the track, live with social, political and economic disadvantages that contribute to poor health or living conditions. For instance, people who live in poverty are frequently less healthy than those with more resources. As a result, they may need additional services and programs – rather than just the standard ones – to offset the impact of substandard housing, limited access to fresh, nutritious foods, and exposure to unsafe environments. This is equity: making sure that have what they need to achieve and maintain health and well-being.
Equality equals quantity, whereas equity equals quality. Equity refers to the qualities of justness, fairness, impartiality and even-handedness, while equality is about equal sharing and exact division. In a nutshell, if the person who already had the same chocolate before says that he/she would give their share to the person who is hungry, equity and equality would be achieved simultaneously!