This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme #EmbraceEquity has invited the school community to reflect on the role of women in society, and urged us to work towards creating a world in which gender is no longer a barrier to success.
Observed since the early 1900’s – a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world, which saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies – IWD started in earnest in 1911, and remains an important moment to continue the advance of women’s equality today.
Celebrated on 8 March, IWD is about women’s equality in all its forms. It is also an official holiday in many countries including: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia. In Germany, Berlin’s parliament approved a bill in 2019 to make International Women’s Day a public holiday. Whether you feel this should be a global holiday or not, IWD is here to stay.
Here in school, we started the week with Dr Lee’s powerful assembly titled ‘The Power and Influence of Women’ to kick off our celebrations. Dr Lee reflected on this year’s theme – to give equity a huge embrace. Staying with the theme, our termly workshop with the school’s governing body this week focused on diversity and inclusion, and the importance of equality in a wider sense for our whole school community.
The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. As a linguist, I am fascinated by the etymology of words. Etymologically, the root word equality and equity share is aequus, meaning ‘even’ or ‘fair’ or ‘equal’, leading to equity being from the Latin aequitas, and equality from aequalitas. However, despite these similarities, equity and equality are inherently different concepts.
As a starting point, the basic definition of the words is important. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities, whereas equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
Equality focuses on providing all genders with equal opportunities, such as a woman’s right to vote. IWD strives to endorse the belief that women should belong in a global culture that actively promotes and supports them in all aspects of their life, from education to the workplace to health. Gender is intersectional, and women as a group are truly diverse.
By embracing equity, we can create a world where women and girls are valued and empowered to reach their full potential. Girls’ schools play an important role in promoting equity by providing a safe and supportive environment where girls can develop their skills and talents without facing gender-based or -biased barriers.
Equality-based solutions to social issues may believe in impartiality, and that there should be no difference in services and policies. However, equity-based solutions take into account the diverse lived experiences of individuals and communities, adapting services and policies according to these differences.
Equity is a long-term and sustainable solution, and is a process for addressing imbalanced social systems. Girls’ schools, including Northampton High, help to level the playing field by providing girls with a nurturing and enabling space for girls to pursue their passions and succeed in their chosen fields.
Director of Marketing & Admissions