From Equality to Equity: Transforming Workplace Opportunities for Women

From Equality to Equity: Transforming Workplace Opportunities for Women

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By Merve Kanat Dogan

Despite the progress made in recent years, there is still a significant gender gap. The latest reports consistently highlight our limited capacities to achieve the SDG 5 by its stipulated deadline. The article discusses the underlying problem and addresses the main challenges. Gender equality is a basic human right. 

From Equality to Equity: Transforming Workplace Opportunities for Women

For centuries, women have been fighting for equality in every aspect of their lives, whether it's in education, politics, or the workplace. Goal 5 of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Progress indicators range from ending gender-based violence and harmful practices, to health-related decision-making power, to equal treatment and representation in the workplace. Despite the progress made in recent years, there is still a long way to go before we can truly say that women have achieved equity with men.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022, COVID-19 and other intersecting shocks reversed previous progress, and the time projected to reach gender parity globally increased from 100 to 132 years between 2020 and 2022.

This article explores the fundamental issue and highlights the differences between equality and equity to provide a clear understanding of the basic concepts.

Equality vs. Equity

Equality is the idea that everyone should be treated the same way regardless of their differences. In theory, this sounds fair, but in reality, it often falls short. Equity, on the other hand, is the idea that everyone should be given what they need to succeed, even if it means treating them differently than others.

Applying the concept of equity to women's issues means recognizing that women face unique challenges that require different solutions than men. For example, women are more likely than men to experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Treating women the same as men in this situation would not be equitable because it does not address the specific challenges that women face.

Equality in Education

Education is one area where there has been significant progress towards equality. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), girls’ school life expectancy is on the rise over the last five decades. Women now make up the majority of college students, and more women than ever are pursuing degrees in traditionally male-dominated fields like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

However, there is still a gender gap in these fields, and women are less likely to be promoted to leadership positions in academia. This is where the concept of equity comes into play. To achieve equity in education, institutions must provide resources and support to women that address the unique challenges they face, such as the gender pay gap and unconscious bias.

Equality in the Workplace

Although women have been fighting for equality in the workplace for decades, progress has been slow. Unfortunately, women still earn less on average than men and are less likely to be promoted to leadership positions. This is where the concept of equity becomes particularly important.

It is important to acknowledge the systemic barriers that prevent women from advancing in their careers, such as the lack of paid parental leave and affordable childcare. To address these barriers, policymakers and employers must work together to create policies that support working parents, such as implementing paid parental leave and providing affordable childcare options. Doing so will provide better opportunities for women to balance work and family responsibilities.

To ensure equitable opportunities for all employees, companies must also address any unconscious biases in their promotion and hiring practices. For example, the traditional preference for assertive employees over those who are more collaborative can disadvantage women who do not conform to gender stereotypes. It is crucial for companies to recognize and correct such biases to create a more inclusive workplace.

Equality in Politics

Women have made significant strides in politics in recent years, with more women than ever serving in elected office. However, there is still a significant gender gap in politics. Women are often subjected to sexist comments and attacks. These can create a hostile environment for women and may negatively impact their mental health and job performance.

To achieve equity in politics, it is crucial to acknowledge and address the challenges faced by women, including the prevalence of sexist attacks and discrimination. This can be achieved through implementing policies that actively encourage and support more women to run for office, as well as providing resources to help female candidates overcome gender-specific barriers.

Empowering Women in the Workplace: The Need for Tailored Resources and Support

While the concept of equality is important, it is not enough to address the unique challenges that women face. Achieving equity requires recognizing and addressing the systemic barriers that prevent women from succeeding. This means providing resources and support that are tailored to the specific needs of women, rather than treating them the same as men. Only by embracing the concept of equity can we truly achieve gender equality and ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to succeed regardless of their gender.

Women should remember that equality is important, but it's not enough. They deserve equity, where the individual needs and challenges are recognized and addressed. They should not settle for a workplace that treats everyone the same but demand one that provides the resources and support they need to thrive. All women in the world deserve a workplace that value and empower them.

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