March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The theme of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. It’s critical to understand the difference between equity and equality. So let’s learn a little bit about the value of equity, spread awareness, and encourage the world to discuss the differences between equality and equity.
What is Equity?
Equality: each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity: each person has different circumstances, and gets the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
In an equitable community, everyone gets whatever they need to be successful INSTEAD OF getting the exact same thing. Giving people the same things and expecting that will make people equal assumes that everyone started out in the same place. But we all start from different places, with different obstacles, barriers, or prejudices working against us.
“Etymologically, the root word they share is aequus, meaning “even” or “fair” or “equal” – which led to equity being from the Latin aequitas, and equality from aequalitas. Yet, despite these similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts.”
Equal opportunities aren’t enough.
True inclusion and belonging require equitable action.
And our work is deeply connected to equity in our community, as we strive to create not just equal opportunities, but equitable opportunities.
Equity in Kitchener-Waterloo and around the world
On IWD, we feel hopeful, celebratory, excited, proud, ambitious, and motivated to continue our efforts towards equity. We have a lot of progress and effort to reflect on:
- 475 people & 200 children supported through housing & homelessness programs
- 844 children & youth supported in our early learning, childcare, & youth services
- 120 youth and newcomer women supported in our entrepreneurship & employment programs
- 276 people trained to support women experiencing gender-based violence through Network of Neighbours
Our CEO, Jennifer Breaton, shared a little more about what this IWD theme means for us at the YW KW.
“While we focus our efforts on supporting equity needs among women in Kitchener-Waterloo, we are also part of an international movement, YWCA World.
Around the world, women at other YWCA’s are fighting their fight for equity and opportunity as well. YWCA’s in the USA are fighting against racism and for women’s reproductive rights with all the power they can. In Japan, youth in their 27 junior and senior high school YWCA’s are taking on the huge topics of human rights, peace and the environment. At YWCA’s in the Ukraine, Myanmar and Pakistan they are supporting women and refugees through war and conflict, and at YWCA’s in parts of Africa they are helping women impacted and displaced by the severity of climate change and are pushing for the right to education for girls.
We are proud to support our own community in the estimated one million women who are supported by YWCA’s world-wide each year in a global effort to transform the world for the better.
To our team: know that your efforts to support women connects to a wide international network who will also stop and reflect today on their tireless efforts to bring equity to their communities. Thank you for being part of our YWCA team (and part of YWCA World) and for standing up for women’s equity in what you do for women every day, and for being there when women need us.”
In our work at the YW KW and through the efforts of women, trans, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people around the world, we can create more equitable opportunities for others and for ourselves. We asked our team to share what Embracing Equity means to them too.
“Equity is like providing diverse paths and different supports in order for us all to reach the same opportunities and experiences. The impact we have through some of our programs, especially with young women and girls, can be the difference they need to be assertive in leadership roles. To start a business. Or to live their life authentically and confidently. When we as women can show up in all these ways and support each other, that’s when change happens.”
– Anonymous Team Member
“When we embrace equity, we welcome everyone to the stage to work towards a better world filled with diversity, acceptance and compassion. My role as Director of Development is to raise funds for the organization and amplify the YW’s work in the community. I am inspired every day by women in our organization who demonstrate how important it is to work together and support one another regardless of their position. “We rise when we lift people up.””
We are so proud to be a part of increasing gender equity on a global scale through…
- parades and events that celebrate and bring women, trans, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people together
- marches for justice and needed change
- political advocacy to build equity between women
- providing essential support and services that help women survive and thrive
But we also know there is so much more work to be done. We hope you’ll join in the efforts.