Difference between Gender Equality and Gender Equity with Examples

On this page we discuss the difference between gender equality and gender equity with examples.

Here are the main differences between gender equality and gender equity, each accompanied by examples:

  1. Definition:
    • Gender Equality: Refers to the equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for all genders. It does not assume that treating everyone exactly the same leads to equality.
      • Example: In a workplace, gender equality might mean that both men and women receive the same salary for the same job role.
    • Gender Equity: Involves the fair treatment of people according to their respective needs and requirements. This may include equal treatment, or treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities.
      • Example: Offering parental leave to both parents but providing additional resources or support to the primary caregiver, who often faces more career disruptions.
  2. Focus:
    • Gender Equality: Focuses on creating the same starting conditions for all genders.
    • Gender Equity: Focuses on acknowledging that people have different needs and circumstances, and providing the resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
      • Example: Offering scholarships specifically to women in engineering to address historical imbalances and encourage more equal participation in the field.
  3. Objective:
    • Gender Equality: Aims to ensure that everyone gets the same things in order to enjoy full human rights and societal benefits.
      • Example: Policies that mandate equal representation of all genders in government committees or boards.
    • Gender Equity: Aims to understand the unequal outcomes arising from disparities and address them with measures that provide compensatory treatment.
      • Example: Tailoring health interventions in a way that considers the specific health needs of different genders, such as providing funding for research into women’s health issues that are less understood or underfunded.

Understanding these distinctions helps in formulating more effective policies and practices to address the unique challenges faced by different genders in society.

Gender Equity

Gender Equity in South Africa is a crucial issue addressed through various policies and initiatives aimed at correcting historical imbalances and promoting fair treatment across all genders. This concept acknowledges that different groups have different needs and circumstances, and that tailored approaches are necessary to achieve substantive equality.

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South African Policies on Gender Equity:

The Constitution of South Africa

  • The Constitution is the cornerstone of all policies in South Africa, providing a framework that enshrines the rights to equality and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation. It mandates legislative and other measures that promote gender equity.

The National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (2000)

  • This policy was established to guide South Africa’s commitment to gender equity. It aims to enforce a gender-responsive approach across all sectors of government and society. This includes initiatives to enhance women’s economic empowerment, reduce gender-based violence, and increase participation in decision-making processes.

The Commission for Gender Equality

  • Established under the Constitution, this independent body is tasked with promoting and monitoring issues of gender equality. It advises on, and monitors policies and practices across private and public sectors to ensure they promote gender equity.

Employment Equity Act

  • This act aims to promote equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination. It mandates affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups, especially women, to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE)

  • Although primarily aimed at improving economic participation and benefits for black South Africans, B-BBEE also includes measures that benefit women specifically. The framework encourages businesses to meet specific gender equity targets as part of their overall scorecard.

Examples of Gender Equity Initiatives:

  • Education Scholarships and Programmes
  • Initiatives like dedicated scholarships for women in STEM fields address the educational disparities and barriers that women face in entering and succeeding in these high-demand areas. Programs may also include support systems like mentoring, internships, and networking opportunities specifically tailored for female students.
  • Health Services
  • Recognizing the unique health needs of different genders, South Africa has implemented programs that focus on women’s health, such as reproductive health services and cancer screening. These are crucial in a country where women historically had less access to comprehensive healthcare.
  • Legal Reforms
  • Continuous reform of family law and criminal law to better protect the rights of women and other marginalized genders, addressing issues like marriage, divorce, inheritance, and gender-based violence more equitably.
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Through these policies and initiatives, South Africa strives to not only treat all citizens equally but to also adjust imbalances by providing specific supports where they are most needed. The goal of gender equity is to ensure that all South Africans, regardless of gender, have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contributing to a more just and equitable society.

Gender Equality

In South Africa, gender equality is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, which is one of the most progressive in the world regarding human rights. The post-apartheid era ushered in significant legal and policy frameworks aimed at promoting gender equality across various spheres of South African life. These efforts reflect a national commitment to correcting historical injustices and discrimination based on gender.

Key Policies and Acts Supporting Gender Equality in South Africa:

The Constitution of South Africa (1996):

  • The Constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender, or sexual orientation. It also enshrines the right to equality and the right to make decisions concerning reproduction, aspects that are fundamental to achieving gender equality.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE):

  • Established under the Constitution, the CGE is tasked with promoting and monitoring gender equality in the country. It plays a critical role in addressing complaints related to gender discrimination and advising on policy and practices across all levels of government to enhance gender equality.

The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (2000):

  • This Act, often referred to as the Equality Act, seeks to prevent and prohibit unfair discrimination and harassment; promote equality; and eliminate unfair discrimination. It further supports affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by marginalized groups, including women.

The National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (2000):

  • This policy framework outlines the South African government’s commitment to achieving gender equality. It provides a strategic direction for government departments and the private sector to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality across various dimensions, including economic, social, and political fields.
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Examples of Gender Equality Initiatives in South Africa:

  • Representation in Government:
  • South Africa has made notable progress in women’s representation in parliament and other political spaces. As of recent years, women make up approximately 46% of the members of the National Assembly, positioning South Africa as one of the global leaders in gender representation in government.
  • Gender Mainstreaming:
  • The government has implemented gender mainstreaming strategies across all governmental departments to ensure that budgeting, policy-making, and programming are responsive to gender equality. This means analyzing how decisions impact different genders and adjusting approaches to promote equality.
  • Education and Training:
  • Policies to ensure equal access to education for girls and young women have been significant. Efforts include campaigns to reduce gender biases in school curricula and promoting STEM education among girls to ensure equal opportunities in these fast-growing fields.

While these policies and initiatives represent significant strides toward gender equality, challenges still exist, including the persistent gender pay gap, underrepresentation in certain sectors like STEM and executive positions in the private sector, and ongoing gender-based violence. These issues require ongoing attention and action to ensure that gender equality moves from policy to practice effectively across all South African communities.