Let's talk about respect and equity


Equity is a concept of social justice based on fairness. It represents a belief, that within a community, everyone should have equal access to community resources and opportunities. (Beder, S, 1996)

equity illustration

As the image above depicts, equality and equity aren’t the same thing. Whilst both are concerned with fairness, equity doesn’t necessarily mean treating people equally or treating people the same. Equity recognises and values our differences. Equity takes into consideration that due to these differences some members of our community may need more support than others, or may be less able to participate in community life.

For example; a person in a wheelchair may face additional barriers to participating in community life. Being equitable, doesn’t mean treating this person the same as everyone else and giving them the same access to opportunities, but recognising and accommodating this difference, such as provide wheelchair access into all buildings etc.


Gender Equity

Gender Equity is is the process of allocating resources, programs and decision-making fairly to both males and females.  Gender equity addresses any imbalances in the benefits available to males and females (Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport, 2013).

Examples of examining gender equity in organisations include

  • Hiring and recruitment practices – to ensure women have leadership roles, involved in decision-making, and are available as role models for other girls and women
  • Participation rates – to evaluate current programs and services and to identify potential barriers that may deter males or females from attending,
  • Promotional materials – to ensure males and females are not being excluded or stereotyped in pictures or language
  • Programming and activities – assess the types of activities offered for males and females are tailored to suit their needs



Gender = masculine and feminine

Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture depicts as masculine or feminine



Sex=male and female

The biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women


Gender roles gender-roles-examined

Gender roles are social expectations that define appropriate behaviour for women and men, within a specific culture. Differences in gender roles and behaviours often create inequalities, whereby one gender becomes empowered to the disadvantage of the other. Thus, in many societies, women are viewed as subordinate to men and have a lower social status, allowing men control over, and greater decision-making power than, women (World Health Organisation, 2009)


Gender stereotypes

Gender Stereotypes are simplistic generalizations and fixed ideas about male’s and female’s traits and capabilities and how people should behave, based on their gender. They describe socially constructed expectations of women and men, in their characteristics, roles and responsibilities, as a result of the way society is organized, not due to biological differences. (World Health Organisation, 1998)

Traditionally, the female stereotypic role is to be the primary caregiver. She is loving, compassionate, caring, nurturing, and sympathetic; and put her family’s welfare before her own. The male stereotypic role is to be the breadwinner and financial provider. He is assertive, competitive, independent, courageous, career‐focused; and holds his emotions in check.


Gender Blind

Gender blind policy and practice either ignores or deliberately does not address gender, on the assumption that no gender-based differences apply. It is often based on the principal of treating everyone the same (World Health Organisation, 2010).


Gender sensitive

Gender sensitive policy and practice takes gender into account, acknowledging the different experiences, expectations, pressures, inequalities and needs of women, men, transgender and intersex people (Victorian Department of Health, 2011). 



Beder, S, 1996, The Nature of Sustainable Development, 2nd edition, Scribe, Newham, Vic.,1996, available from http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/STS300/equity/meaning/index.html

Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity, 2013, Gender Equity 101, available from http://www.caaws.ca/gender-equity-101/what-is-gender-equity/

World Health Organisation, 2009, Violence Prevention; The Evidence, Promoting Gender equality to prevent violence against women

World Health Organization, 2010, Department of Gender Women and Health e, Ravindran Se. Gender, women and primary health care renewal: a discussion paper. Geneva: World Health Organization

World Health Organisation, 1998, Gender and Health : Technical Paper

Victorian Department of Health, 2011, Service Guideline on gender sensitivity and safety: Promoting a holistic approach to wellbeing. Melbourne: Government of Victoria

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