Equality is a concept more familiar in today’s society. Whilst the world is far from it, conversations are being made and change is taking place for a more fair and equal way of life for all. And whilst the promotion of Equality is a foundational and necessary starting point, it will only get us so far on the road to real equality for all people.
During my years working in the community, I have come to better understand the needs of the most vulnerable in our society, as well as the great disadvantages they face. These disadvantages prevent vulnerable and minority communities from being able to reach the same destination and goals as other people because they aren’t provided with the same recourses and support as everyone else. What I have come to distinguish, is that Equity is a far better concept to implement in our society than Equality.
Equity is the principle that recognises all people who come with different backgrounds, histories and individual challenges. Instead of giving everyone the same starting point and opportunity as Equality would suggest, Equity provides individuals with resources and support that will enable them to reach the same end goal as anybody else. To simplify, Equality is an equal opportunity, whilst Equity is an equal outcome.
Don’t get me wrong, equal opportunity is good. We need an equal opportunity in the workforce, education systems, politics etc. But equal opportunity only provides us with the foundation of systematic changing equality. Real equality comes when we give people specific building blocks to help them along the journey so that all people have the same access to the same outcome.
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One of the greatest systems of Equity I have seen comes out of Australia. The Government of Australia has a system in place so that all Australian citizens are eligible to go to college if they desire, regardless of their financial circumstances. Firstly, all students can receive an interest-free loan from the Australian Government. No student will ever go to the banks for a high-interest loan. This interest-free loan is only paid back after the individual earns above AUD 47,000. And the loan is paid back gradually each year from the individual’s tax.
Secondly, on top of this, students who have parents that cannot support them financially are eligible to earn a fortnightly allowance depending on their circumstances. This allowance ranges from $360 — $500 a fortnight which is freely given, without a catch or students having to pay it back. There is also extra support for Australian First Nations peoples and minority communities. Through this system, it enables all Australians to attend college, regardless of their disadvantages.
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There are many other examples of Equity in practice that provide us with the evidence that Equity is truly a far greater expression of equality than equality as we know it today. The world has a long way to go in recognising minority groups and giving them the access and support they deserve. We’re seeing a lot more people especially younger generations take to equality and making a stand for it. And whilst this warms my heart, it’s still just the beginning. For true, genuine and real equality to occur, for systems to be shaken and for the patriarchy to be tumbled down, we need Equity in society to be a vital part of the process of change.
This post was previously published on Co-existence.
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