Equality or Equity? What is needed for the Women of our Country?
Sumaiya Sarwat, Research Assistant, BILIA :
The concepts of equality and equity are often misunderstood in our country by the common population. Especially in our day to day life, whenever there arises any question as to opportunity the concept of equality is used as a mode of causing injustice. If we draw some simple examples we will get clearer view on this matter. Starting with the reserved seats on the public transports concluding with the job reservation on the public service sectors it is always asked ‘if women want equality why they are seeking for privileges?’
To find the answer to this question we need to understand the concepts of equality, equity, discrimination and positive discrimination at first. These ideas are interlinked but are also different from each other. Equality is a procedure for sharing out resources, programs and decision makings in a way that ensures equal distribution of the resources, facilities among all the sections of society, either classified on the basis of sex and minority or on the basis of culture and religion, and each have equal access to the same. On the other hand discrimination stands at exactly the opposite of justice and equality. Where there is no similarity and equality in sharing and opportunity. In other words, discrimination refers to unfair or unequal treatment of an individual (or group) based on certain characteristics and illogical factors. Now if we focus on the concepts of equity and positive discrimination, we will find that these concepts are almost similar, positive discrimination mainly developed from the concept of equity. Positive discrimination though contains the word ‘discrimination’ it has a far more different meaning and application from the term discrimination. Positive discrimination is a kind of practice which includes preferential distribution of a benefit or service to a disadvantaged social group to compensate for social inequality. This is a method that consists of instituting inequalities in order to promote equality, in line with certain preferential treatment. Its declared aim is to reestablish equality – or at least an equality of opportunity – compromised by two phenomena: the generalization or the persistence of racist or sexist practices, on the one hand, and an increase in socioeconomic inequalities, on the other hand. It seeks to compensate for inequalities by creating discrimination that paradoxically redistributes equality. Thus it can be said that positive discrimination upholds the principle of equity which ultimately aims to result equity in every sphere of the social life. Therefore if we think more deeply onto the matter it is quite obvious and logical that we need equity and positive discrimination more than equality for the women population of our country. Since, women, due to our social custom, usages and other relevant factors, still stand as a backward section. Though on one hand women’s participation in the education and working sectors is increasing , on the other hand the barriers and obstacles in their way is becoming more hard to combat. Therefore as long as there is inequality there should be positive discrimination. In other words, as long as there in injustice and inequality in opportunity, women should get privileges. And this shall continue until there is level playing field in every part of our society.