Equality of opportunity is not enough. Unless we create an environment where everyone is guaranteed some minimum capabilities through some guarantee of minimum income, education, and healthcare, we cannot say that we have fair competition. When some people have to run a 100 meter race with sandbags on their legs, the fact that no one is allowed to have a head start does not make the race fair. Equality of opportunity is absolutely necessary but not sufficient in building a genuinely fair and efficient society”
– Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism
When it comes to the fight for equality, it is just that: a fight for equality. That is equality in the workplace, school classrooms, and so on. As a feminist, I am all about the battle for equality; however, now is the time to fight for both equality and equity. Equality is defined as “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities,” while equity is defined as “the quality of being fair and impartial.” An example of equity is a race in which all competitors have the same advantage at the start of the race. In contrast, a lack of equity would be a race where all competitors have different advantages at the beginning of the race, and one beats the other due to their advantage.
Often, in the workplace or classrooms, one will find equality enforced, but all will not have began from the same place and had the necessary resources to “grow.” For example, two individuals are asked to build a house. One has all the necessary resources to build a “perfect” house while the other has some resources and struggles to build a “perfect” house.
If both were to be judged by the same criteria and without acknowledging what resources were available to each individual, there is an obvious winner. Why is this? The lack of equity throughout the world hinders millions of people in the workplace, classrooms, etc. Most would say that’s what sets apart people from others because they are “better in their field” or believed to be better because of their advantage. This is where equity comes into play.
We need to fight not only for the opportunity but for a universally even playing field for everyone.