We recently teamed up with Community Connections YYC to hold a one-day workshop on equity and inequity. One of our goals was to better understand how these concepts impact the lives of people in Calgary. Forty passionate community members from diverse groups joined us at CommunityWise Resource Centre to reflect, learn, share experiences and make connections. Here are some of the topics we explored.
What do we mean when we say equity?
Equity recognizes that simply treating people equally is not enough. An equitable approach attempts to address injustices by recognizing that the society we live in disadvantages certain groups of people, both historically and currently. In Canada some of these groups include women, Aboriginal people, visible minorities and persons with disabilities. Equity is an approach that seeks social justice by providing contextual support for those who may need extra assistance in accessing resources, wealth or power; and by advocating for fairer ways of structuring society.
How does this relate to women’s issues?
The framework of equity can help us in understanding and responding to inequality, particularly for groups who experience oppression. Gender equity can be understood as justice in the treatment of people of all genders according to their needs, and as a means to achieving equality. Practicing equity requires temporary measures to compensate for historical and social disadvantages that prevent groups and individuals, including women, from equal participation and access to opportunities.
What might a framework of equity look like?
Sometimes equity requires differential treatment with policies, resources and actions focused on meeting the specific needs of a person or group. Equity, for example, can be used to increase the number of women in positions of political representation and address the imbalance between men and women in decision-making bodies. One such policy that is currently being debated in Canada is legislation that includes the use of mandatory quotas to increase the number of women on boards. Similar legislation has been passed in other countries responding to women being underrepresented in positions of power.
What local issues did we discuss?
Through the workshop, we discussed a range of local issues in terms of inclusion and opportunity such as lack of affordable and accessible childcare; challenges new migrants to Calgary face; politics and equity; as well as income and living wages.
We also took time to create connections with others and to learn about how to frame ideas of equity. We heard about many actions being taken in our community that are responding to these issues, such as the creation of learning spaces and community hubs. It was great to hear about the growth of the food justice and security movement in our city.
Thank you to CommunityWise Resource Centre for sharing their space with us for this event. And thank you to all the participants and organizers who made this day of meaningful analysis and thoughtful discussion possible. We felt inspired and energized from the passion, experience and knowledge of the group!