Equality or Gender Equity?

May 5, 2015 | By
Vera Monteiro

IMG_3978Sometimes, the concepts of equality and gender equity are used as synonyms not having, however, the same meaning. They are not identical but, certainly, complementary.

The United Nations define the term as:“Gender Equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue, but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development”.
This definition recognizes the differences between men and women, and also focuses on access and opportunities. Thus, gender equity means that men and women should be fairly treated and should valorize and encourage equivalently rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities for all. Women and men are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations imposed by stereotypes. Gender equity does not mean that women and men have to be identical, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities do not depend on whether they were born with female or male.

Women make up half of the potential human capital available in any economy, and the efficient use of this talent pool is a key driver of competitiveness and more could be done if the same opportunities granted to men are also given to women. It is necessary, for business and economic growth to pull together to level the same opportunities and access for men and women. The developments observed in society in general regarding the equity in gender relations are significant. However, in the labor field, inequalities between men and women are still evident, given the access criteria, compensation, benefits and promotion opportunities. It’s important, from both a corporate and social perspective, to understand the returns that can come from empowering women as much as men.

The gender equity includes not only equal opportunities but, above all, recognition of singularities, participation and inclusion of women, taking into account is one of the mainstays of human development. When you have more diversity you are more likely to have innovation and creativity so as to improve productivity. To achieve these goals, it is necessary to promote increased access to vocational and technological education and higher education; promoting training for women to work, to reduce gender inequality in careers and professions, encourage greater female participation in vocational training and technological areas traditionally occupied by men mostly.
“Gender equality denotes women having the same opportunities in life as men, including the ability to participate in the public sphere. By removing discrimination in opportunities for women allows them to achieve equal status to men. (…) However, this focus on what is sometimes called formal equality, does not necessarily demand or ensure equality of outcomes. It assumes that once the barriers to participation are removed, there is a level playing field…” (REEVES, Hazel e BADEN, Sally. Gender and Development: Concepts and Definitions. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, 2000).

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