What is the difference between “equality” and “equity”?

Words have meaning. The word “equal” appears in our Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

e•qual•i•ty ĭ-kwŏl′ĭ-tē

n. The state or quality of being equal.

In the case of the Declaration of Independence, the phrase “created equal” means that all of us are given the same rights. It does not mean that everyone will be equal in all ways, including intelligence, wealth and health, or that everyone will have the same outcomes in life.

eq•ui•ty ĕk′wĭ-tē

n. The state or quality of being just and fair.

The following is from George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health:

While the terms equity and equality may sound similar, the implementation of one versus the other can lead to dramatically different outcomes for marginalized people.

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.  

In the illustration below, two individuals have unequal access to a system — in this case, the tree that provides fruit. With equal support from evenly distributed tools, their access to the fruit still remains unequal. The equitable solution, however, allocates the exact resources that each person needs to access the fruit, leading to positive outcomes for both individuals.

While the tree appears to be a naturally occurring system, it’s critical to remember that social systems aren’t naturally inequitable — they’ve been intentionally designed to reward specific demographics for so long that the system’s outcomes may appear unintentional but are actually rooted discriminatory practices and beliefs.

Equity is a solution for addressing imbalanced social systems. Justice can take equity one step further by fixing the systems in a way that leads to long-term, sustainable, equitable access for generations to come.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), equity is defined as “the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.” Therefore, as the WHO notes, health inequities involve more than lack of equal access to needed resources to maintain or improve health outcomes. They also refer to difficulty when it comes to “inequalities that infringe on fairness and human rights norms.”

Those Who Know Better have determined that they must control civilization so that those They deem to suffer from inequities will have equal outcomes with those who have advantages, are more intelligent, or who work harder.

Thought Co.

Key Takeaways: Equity vs. Equality

  • Equality is providing the same level of opportunity and assistance to all segments of society, such as races and genders.
  • Equity is providing various levels of support and assistance depending on specific needs or abilities.
  • Equality and equity are most often applied to the rights and opportunities of minority groups.
  • Laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provide equality, while policies such as affirmative action provide equity.

Affirmative Action is not about equality. It isn’t even about equity. It judges people primarily by their ethnic background or the color of their skin.

Under Affirmative Action in college admissions, preference is given to those who are of African or Hispanic ancestry. Those who are Caucasian or Asian are moved to the back of the bus. For example, a poor Caucasian young man will not be given preference because he is white; the fact that he is poor will probably be ignored. Asian students are often moved behind because they are perceived to have intellectual advantages, while it may just be that they work harder and get better grades as a result.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What is the difference between “equality” and “equity”?

  1. auscitizenmom says:

    Thank you. I have had trouble holding on to those meanings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.