by Minahil Sohail
The story of women’s persistence to overcome the subordinate position in society is one that has been unceasingly told. Despite the hundreds of years of attention to the issue, there has been an aggravating concern regarding the deficit that has been continuously experienced when it came to the participation of women in the workforce. This has been prior to the second wave of feminism in the 1970s. The demand for inclusive gender is a tale of taking one step forward while taking two back, or every so often, and the increasing necessity for diversity in political as well as organizational settings. The steps forward can be labeled as the changes required at a structural level where the deficit of gender is recognized and proceeded with efforts of a certain symmetry to create gender equality.
Research suggests that women are dominating the five Cs – namely caring, catering, cashiering, clerical, and cleaning when the service sector is brought forth as well as in labor markets. The gender disparity can always be dated back to ancient history where valorization of men, and their importance as breadwinners, were dominated in response to the subordination of women rendering the primacy at homes and their workplace gravely reduced. The 20th century is historically the period recognized where the struggles for and against gender
inclusion materialized. Undeniably, today, the greater presence of women in the workforce and systems of social justice has intensified the importance as well as increased the visibility of an issue that demands activism.
The Case for Equity
The idea that lies behind equality, equity, and inclusion comes from emphasizing fairness which is, in fact, the ‘moral case’. The implication that stems from it is that there must be an overall process where there is an indispensable demand to invest in groups that are underrepresented. The steps that need to be taken are towards bringing an end to global gender discrimination but the question that lies unanswered is the difference between gender equality vs gender equity. Many instances can be reported as those where these terms are used interchangeably. However, when the perspective is that of women’s rights there is a need to be categorical and clear under human rights law. The United Nations Organization introduced The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and ensures the steps towards the right direction are being taken
(SDGs) where Goal # 5 encompasses the problem at hand. Equity although is when the problems faced are looked at from a micro-lens and dealt with accordingly this includes the circumstances a group must deal with.
“Gender diversity without inclusion and equity can lull the organization into a distorted sense of victory that if there is an improvement in representation, the work-life quality would also revamp through the traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.”
To ensure sustainable change is underway within institutions and civil society, building an inclusive environment is directly interrelated with equity. However, a workforce or community that includes women does not automatically produce benefits in that setting. If a parallel focus is not given towards a more equitable and inclusive organization for all employees there can always be a backlash awaiting. Gender diversity without inclusion and equity can lull the organization into a distorted sense of victory that if there is an improvement in representation, the work-life quality would also revamp through the traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.
Furthermore, if women in an organizational structure do not feel like their perspectives are being heard and are included; the benefits of these individuals being present will be limited. Diversity isolated from equity and inclusion can additionally be a negative contribution to tokenism, which means that the individuals from underrepresented backgrounds are given positions in an organization but given no influence alongside their peers (men). The value of diversity and inclusion for a nation and for organizations is that they promote talent retention, improve employee wellbeing, increase employee engagement and reduce unlawful behaviors including discrimination and harassment. (Ayentimi, 2020)
“Equity is the conscious realization that we are all unique individuals, confronted with a variety of difficulties and possibilities based on where we’re starting.”
In reality, it’s easy to mix up equity and equality, but it’s critical to understand the distinctions. Equality is a term that is frequently used to treat everyone the same without considering their specific needs. It’s difficult to use, and it doesn’t help in organizations or communities. Equity is the conscious realization that we are all unique individuals, confronted with a variety of difficulties and possibilities based on where we’re starting. As a result, various accommodations may be required. In the best-case scenario, impediments are removed. From a standpoint of equity, we can see that treating equal, or wherever equality is applied, does not assist everyone in achieving the same result. In conclusion, the need to have a fairer, more just system in place can only be ensured through the implementation of practices, recognition of group challenges through equity, and an environment that favors everyone equally.
Minahil Sohail works for Savvital a Pledge Signer of Insure Equality. Thank you Minahil for your contribution!
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