Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. That sounds good, but if we are all equal, then why aren’t we all treated equally? And is treating every person exactly the same always the best thing to do?
To answer this question, it’s important to think about the difference between equality and equity.
What is equality?
Equality is recognising that, as human beings, we all have the same value. This means, we all have the same rights, we should all receive the same level of respect, and have the same access to opportunities. This isn’t just a nice idea - there are actual laws supporting this.
What is equity?
Equity is about everyone achieving equal outcomes. We all have the same value and deserve a good life, but we all start from a different place. We are also all wonderfully different and experience the world in our own unique way. It’s because of these differences that we sometimes need to be treated differently for us all to live safely, healthily, happily…and equally! This means that we need to look at what individual people and communities need in order to achieve equity.
For example, equality would be giving everyone the same type of ladder to pick mangoes at the top of a tree. Equity would be realising that not everyone can use the same type of ladder and providing another way for them to reach the mangoes at the top of the tree.
What can you do?
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, where you live, what you look like, what you believe, think or do, every human has the same value and is deserving of the same opportunities.
Creating a world that is fair for everyone is up to all of us. We can help by looking out for each other, showing one another respect, and thinking about the different ways others may experience the world.
You can learn more about all the ways we are different from one another, as well as the many things we have in common by watching: