International Women’s Day 2023 – Equity and Equality

8 March 2023
3 minutes

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental Human Right, is thus essential to achieve peaceful societies that support full human potential and sustainable development. Women have been significant actors on the global Human Right’s stage enabling a shift in thinking about Human Rights as women’s rights. Thus, if we truly believe in forging an equal and inclusive world, then there is the indisputable need for the world to better understand the difference between equity and equality.

Our gender identity is continually being constructed, contested and negotiated in particular socio-political, economic and social contexts. In the past year, women in many countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine and the US have been fighting for their rights amid war, violence and policy changes in their respective countries. Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on 24 February 2022, the UN report that gender gaps in food insecurity, malnutrition, poverty, and increased gender-based violence have worsened inside Ukraine and around the world due to war-induced price hikes and shortages.

In Northern Ireland, gender has been marginalised both in the descriptive and substantive representation of women by the Troubles and by social and political agendas. As a result of much historic disregard, the words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. Yet, despite these similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts.

To strive for equity, means we must understand and give women and those from minoritised groups what they need to achieve the goal of equal opportunities. This is achieved by considering systems that disadvantage some and seeking to overcome them. To do so we need to take an individual approach, to lead, share power and focus on outcomes. It is only by recognising the need for these changes that we can imagine a gender equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

This International Women’s Day it is more important than ever before that we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and recognise how far we have come to forge gender equality in Northern Ireland. We must continue to raise awareness about discrimination, take action to drive gender parity and embrace equity. International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere.

As a 24-year-old woman who has lived, studied, and worked in Northern Ireland for the majority of her life, surprisingly the issue of women’s rights has only come to the forefront of my experiences in more recent years. From a young age I was taught the ways of the world to be the way they are for what they are, and to accept that that’s how things are meant to be. Much of this has come to be true, however it was only since I’ve entered adulthood and been exposed to the thought processes and driving factors of our society that I’ve come to realise that who I am or what I know are not the only qualities considered. Factors such as my gender, race and religious background are often taken into consideration, be it for positive or negative. Whilst much progress has been made over the years towards the development of women’s rights and the equality of opportunity, I believe the platform of IWD for women’s rights helps to facilitate the necessary socio-economic and political changes by recognising and challenging the culture within our society today ~ Rachel McBrinn

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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