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International Women’s Day 2023: Embracing Equity vs. Equality

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organization specific. Keep reading to learn more about this important day, and how you can be an advocate for equity while teaching the kids in your care.


Equality vs. Equity: What’s The Difference As We #EmbraceEquity For IWD 2023 And Beyond?

The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. 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, and the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to help forge a worldwide conversation about this important issue and its impact. So, what’s the difference between equity and equality – and why is it important to understand, acknowledge and value this? The IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to get the world talking about why “equal opportunities are no longer enough” – and can in fact be exclusionary, rather than inclusive.


Defining Equality + Equity

Equality and equity

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.

Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.

Examples Of Key Differences

Let’s hear from Belgium-based YouTuber Tamara Makoni, founder of Kazuri Consulting as she clearly explains the difference between equality and equity – and why it truly matters to #EmbraceEquity.


Let’s also hear more about equity versus equality from Cammy Watkins through the Conversations for Change series by Inclusive Communities.

Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. In other words, it’s not giving everyone the exact same thing. If we give everyone the exact same thing, expecting that will make people equal, it assumes that everyone started out in the same place – and this can be vastly inaccurate because everyone isn’t the same.

The concept of ‘fairness’ can get tricky as it’s often assumed that ‘being fair’ means that everybody gets the same thing. Often, this has been taught when we were growing up, but ‘fairness‘ really only works when we’re all the same to start out with. This is such a key point that can have an enormous impact on young people when explained in an age-appropriate manner.


Early Examples In History

One of the earliest examples of equity is found in Medieval England when English courts settled disputes according to Common Law. Justice was uniform and consistent, but not necessarily fair. For example, if two people both commit theft, but the stolen items have different values, should they receive the same punishment? Since then, Courts have adopted the principle of equity, taking a case-by-case approach to consider differing circumstances.


Equality + Equity As Political Principles

Equity International Women's Day









In political terms, equality is one of the foundations of democracy. Equality is based on the belief that all people should have the same opportunities for a happy life. Equity is linked to the ideal that success is based on personal efforts and not social status. However, ongoing conversation highlights whether equality is enough and if instead, we should look towards equity as a better principle to progress society. Equity acknowledges that people don’t begin life in the same place and that circumstances can make it more difficult for people to achieve the same goals. Inequity affects many people, but most commonly historically it has marginalized communities such as women, people of color, disabled people, the economically disadvantaged, and those from the LGBTQIA+ community. The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people’s ability to thrive.


Equity-Based vs. Equality-Based Solutions

People who push for equality-based solutions to social issues may believe in impartiality, and that there should be no difference in services and policies. However, equity-based solutions take into account the diverse lived experiences of individuals and communities, adapting services and policies according to these differences. Equity is a long-term and sustainable solution and is a process for addressing imbalanced social systems.


Applying Equity To Women’s Advancement

Women's equity









Equality focuses on providing all genders with equal opportunities, such as a woman’s right to vote. Yet, women often require more than a level playing field. They need to belong in a global culture that actively promotes and supports them in all aspects of their life, from education to the workplace to health. Gender is intersectional, and women as a group are truly diverse. Policies that benefit white women, for example, may not benefit women of color due to historical or current inequalities. A shift from gender equality to the process of gender equity is required for meaningful progress.

Around the world, people are having meaningful conversations about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and why equal isn’t always fair. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. If we truly believe in, value, and embrace equity, then women are more likely to have access to what’s required to succeed. So on IWD engage in those impactful conversations, and share with the kids in your care. If you believe in forging an equal and inclusive world, then you truly understand the need for the world to better understand the difference between equity and equality. Make it your mission to educate friends, family, colleagues, and the community on the need for equity.

International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity for teachers, parents, and caregivers to educate and inspire children and students about gender equality. From celebrating women’s achievements to challenging gender stereotypes and bias, educating future generations about gender equality is one of the most grassroots differences anyone can make. There are many useful classroom resources available to support International Women’s Day activities. Use the IWD Activity Cards to engage children and students in activities and conversations to inspire and reinforce an inclusive mindset. Below are some activity prompts and coloring pages to share with the kids in your care as you embrace this meaningful day, tap each link to access the downloadable file from the International Women’s Day official website.


IWD Grace Hopper Coloring Page

IWD Greta Thunberg Coloring Page


credit to: - head to their page for more wonderful resources.

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