Happy almost Women’s Equality Day! This day was designated in 1971 as the day of commemoration of the 19th Amendment, women’s right to vote, and to be equal to men in that right. While this commemoration is an affirmation of a great milestone for women, we are still (96 years later) striving toward the elusive goal of equality in our work-places, governments, and homes. Or is equality even really the goal?
Is equality enough?
We were recently given the opportunity to participate in the Bentonville Film Festival interviewing filmmakers from around the world whose films represent diverse voices. Geena Davis co-founded the festival and her institute on gender in media to “engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve gender balance.” The opening night feature film, Equity, spoke to this mission perfectly. The film “is about women on Wall Street, but it’s not about corruption, crime, or catastrophe. It’s about women who must carefully calibrate every aspect of their lives, professional and private, to stay equal in the game.” BAM!
We had an opportunity to interview Actor/Producer Sarah Megan Thomas and Director Meera Menon. We asked Thomas if she considered there to be a dual meaning for women with the concept of equity. She replied, “Yes! Yes, it does have dual meaning.” Then she paused thoughtfully and said, “We screened at Tribeca and Sundance, and no one has commented on or asked us that question before.”
Why not? One reason may be because “equality” is used most often when we consider the plight of women coming from behind and striving to be given rights and respect equal to men. When we posed the question of the difference between equity and equality to Menon, she took a thoughtful pause as well, and said, “I think they are connected, ultimately. One is the path to the other. I don’t know. I really want to think about that.”
So, what is equity? What role does it have in women’s lives? And why is it important?
The difference between equality and equity
Equality noun equal·i·ty i-?kwä-l?-t?: the quality or state of having the same rights, social status, etc.
Equity noun eq·ui·ty ?e-kw?-t?: fairness or justice in the way people are treated
The conversation about equality or equity is discussed heavily in the education sector. Children facing challenges that include everything from disabilities to economic disadvantage may be given equal access to an education, but “equality means giving everyone the same resources, equity means giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and thrive.” The argument is that additional time, resources, or access are required to even the playing field and make things equitable, and not just equal, because equal would still leave some children behind.
How does this translate into the goals women have as a gender? Will being given equal pay and rights make us equal in the workplace, in government, and our homes? Will equal rights mean that we are respected and fairly treated? Or does there need to be more systemic change? How would equity help make that change? And how do we do it?
Join the conversation
We’re exploring the question of equality and equity this week in recognition of Women’s Equality Day. Is equality enough? What role does equity have in the goals of women? How do we attain one or both? Comment here, share your story, and stay tuned for a special guest feature and her thoughts about equity in our next post!