Gender Equity, What Does it Mean?

By Racheal Walser 


Gender equity is a fundamental aspect of social justice, aiming to ensure fairness, equality, and opportunities for all genders. It is heavily discussed from explicit conversations happening locally in our Universities, to the whispers of women trying to get home through the park before dusk falls, to the subtle glances among queer and indigenous folks sharing a late night LRT ride. The pursuit of gender equity has been significantly influenced by both indigenous and queer history and these intertwined narratives have heavily contributed in shaping attitudes, policies and activism, fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.

By acknowledging the intersections of gender equity with queer and indigenous history, we can foster a deeper understanding of the diverse experiences and struggles faced by marginalized genders. By embracing the intersectionality of gender equity, queer history, and indigenous history, we can create a more just and equitable society for women girls, and gender-diverse individuals.

"If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I'm shortchanging myself"

Gender equity vs gender equality

Gender equity and equality are related, although they have key distinctions from one another. Gender equity focuses on correcting historical inequities through providing individuals with tools and programs to transform historical social disadvantages. Equity recognizes that each individual has unique circumstances, barriers, and conditions, and that opportunities and resources may vary to reach an equal outcome.

Gender equity refers to the fair treatment, access and opportunities for individuals of all genders, with a focus on addressing historical challenges within equity and equality. It is about being fair to all individuals regardless of their identification. 

Gender equality focuses on providing all individuals regardless of gender with equal opportunity.

historical influences of gender equity

Prior to colonialism, Indigenous cultures were rooted in equality and fluidity. Men, Women and Two Spirit people participated in complementary roles and were accepted and celebrated among each other. As settlers came into the land, Indigenous lives were dismantles and these cultures were pushed to the brink of extinction, then buried under the scar tissue of genocide, denial, and systemic oppression.

These harms were and still perpetuated on anyone who appears different in society, often from very young ages. Male-assigned children are given trucks and coveralls, and female-assigned children are put in dresses and told they’re pretty.

The perpetuation of these patriarchal based values sends a message as humans grow; some are worthy, and some are not. The roles are already decided, and to acknowledge, celebrate or be something other than that is to face gender-based violence as the overarching patriarchal system tries to enforce conformation in order to maintain what those early settlers sough – power over.

gender equity calls us to consider the path

Many people believe that things have changed now, but Indigenous women in Canada experience lower educational attainment, employment opportunities, socioeconomic status and lack access to quality housing and health care services. They are forced and coerced into being sterilized. Two-Spirit individuals experience significantly higher rates of poverty, and this statistic increases when looking at Indigenous transgender individuals. Gay, lesbian and transgender youth still face higher rates of homelessness and exploitation by perceived trusted individuals after being exiled from their communities because of their identity. 

so, what can you do?

Consider your own Identity:

  • Learn about intersectionality and internal bias – how is your daily experience is informed by these layers to how others see you, and how you see others.

Stay Engaged:

  • Watch, read, listen to people with other intersectional identities as they talk about their experiences to see how you can champion change.

Actively Ally:

  • Join into the conversation to help support, create space and champion the voices of equity-seeking groups.
  • Bring your Friends! Consider who you can share this with to foster a more equitable society.


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