Equality is giving everyone a shoe and equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits. (Susan k. Gardner)

Equality and equal opportunities are simply not adequate. Why? People start from different places, and true inclusion and belonging require equitable action (IWD.com). When resources and opportunities are equally allocated without considerations of individuality, there are even higher chances of inequality. Equity, however, recognizes the unique circumstances of each person or group and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. 

The international women’s day of March 8 2023 may have come and gone but not without leaving us with much to reflect on. Its unique theme of embracing equity got many women and men sharing pictures with a self-hugging pose to show their support for the course and has prompted deep and honest conversations about equality and equity for women’s empowerment and sustainability. 

Image source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

In the sustainability space, it has been established that women are disproportionately affected by environmental issues. Thanks to the brilliant work of historical women who have, and continue to fight for women’s rights. Still, women and girls face numerous structural barriers that impact all aspects of their lives. The UN SDGs cannot be achieved if women are left behind. Much progress has indeed been made, but according to the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Report, the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. Therefore we must Eliminate gender-specific constraints, as well as other forms of discrimination with which they intersect. 

As a female yearning for liberation or a male with wives, daughters, relatives, and female friends, here’s what you can do to embrace equity and contribute to sustainable development for everyone. 

  1. Strengthen your Convictions 

Embracing equity must begin from a firm foundation of in-depth knowledge and potent convictions. The issue of providing equitable opportunities for all genders is often misunderstood and rejected in many settings. The first and most important step is to understand why gender equality matters for sustainable development. It’s never about who is better but letting everyone thrive irrespective of who they are, where they come from, or their current situation.  You need to ensure that you have a reasonable comprehension of the history, the present, and the beautiful future we dream and advocate for. 

  1.  Listen 

“To embrace equity, we put aside our assumptions and engage our community and listen, learn and act in ways that centre the experiences of underrepresented and marginalized individuals and groups.” (Marion Buller). As we engage our communities, REES Africa is always passionate about the plight of our rural women, because as house managers, farmers, petty traders etc, women face so much discrimination and suffer much more from the hazards done to our environment. 


  1. Act 

In homes, offices, and religious or social gatherings, let your stance be definite and known to all. You need to call out patriarchal norms and challenge dominating systems that promote discrimination and prevent the advancement of certain genders or classes. Parents need to raise their children to embrace equity; educational institutions need to adopt this culture too. Rural women and men need to be guided to embrace equity. It takes courage, consistency, hard work and joint actions in fostering the right attitudes and behaviours required to promote equity.

We have come a long way in our pursuit of sustainable development and it’s too late to back down. We do not only need to re-establish the balance between man and nature, which has been thoroughly disrespected but also between genders (Christina Figueres). In the end, we all have a common goal; to enhance and preserve our quality of living for our present and future generations.

So, let us ‘Embrace Equity for everyone 

Writer: Christiana Ugbem

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