Gender equality and gender equity are related terms but have different meanings. While the words sound similar, the definitions and practical usage are different and need to be understood in today’s era of social justice.
By the definition of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, gender equality, does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not depend on whether they were born as male or female. On the other hand, gender equity means fairness of treatment for men and women according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities.
Organizations around the world, including movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and Women Like Us Foundation among others, are working towards and aiming for equality in terms of gender and diversity. Gender equality, equality between men and women represents the concept that all human beings, both men, and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. It means that the different behavior, aspirations, and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favored equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.
However, gender equality can never be achieved without gender equity since gender equity leads to gender equality. To ensure gender equity and fairness of treatment on both sides, we need to implement measures, programs and strategies to compensate for the social and historical disadvantages women faced and still are subjected to in everyday life. We need to ensure that the opportunities presented in everyday life are not limited simply on the basis of gender. In order to have gender equity, we need to change the narrative and focus away from fixing women and focus on the real issue - fixing the system. A system that has suppressed women’s opportunities at all levels.
Gender equality is seeing man and women as being of equal status and value. It is judging a person based on their merit, and not viewing them as inferior or superior purely based on their gender. Women and men are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations imposed by stereotypes and society.