For several decades, International Women’s Day has been observed to acknowledge the unequivocal achievements of women across the globe. This day is set aside to reflect on the progress women have made across varying landscapes – be it political, social, economic, ethnic, or cultural – as well as press forward for gender equality in every corner.
As I journaled on this year’s theme of #EmbraceEquity, I reflected on recent conversations I have had discussing diversity, inclusivity, and equity. On this International Women’s Day, I considered why it is important to understand, acknowledge, and value each of these terms. While they are often mentioned together without pause, each is needed to create an environment where one feels that they can truly belong.
I was reminded that instead of focusing on equal opportunities, we must focus on equal outcomes. Those outcomes will only happen as we embrace equity, allowing ourselves to see the richness in the diverse experiences, perspectives, and circumstances that each person brings to the table.
I paused and recognized that just a few decades ago, I, as a woman, and in particular a Black woman, would have not been allowed a seat (never mind even being in the room!) at many of the tables that I now command and direct. My journey made me think of Shirley Chisholm – the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress – saying “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” I can think of several times where I’ve had to bring in my own chair. While several racial and gender glass ceilings have been shattered over the last several years, as a society we still have a long way to go.
Keen to hear how the other Lovinklaan Foundation Board Members reflected on International Women’s Day this year, I asked them: Why do you think we should embrace equity? This is what they had to say:
“Equity will be achieved by treating everyone justly, according to their circumstances.” – Nora Taylor, Chair
“Embracing equity means recognizing that each person has unique circumstances and that they should have access to the support and resources they require to achieve equal privileges and goals.” – Maricel Atienza, Member
”Embracing equity gives us all the opportunity to bring in our best and get the best outcome together.‘’ – Sophie Plantinga, Member
”Much is said and included in our vocabulary and daily narrative around ‘equality’ for women, so it is great to see this year that IWD focused on ‘equity’. Equity is equally important for women, but has less awareness, so I’m hoping that this year’s emphasis changes its familiarity for all, to make the difference that is needed.’’ – Marc Kefford, Member
”It is not about treating others as you’d like to be treated. It´s about treating others the way they want to be treated.’’ – Giuliana Netto, Member
The decision to embrace equity is a choice we all must make. When we act with intention and direction, we can produce impactful change on gender equality. So, on this International Women’s Day, let’s make a pledge to not only continue engaging in such impactful conversations, but act upon them. The choice is yours, and while you are at it, bring a chair. – Zakiya Seymour, Secretary