Key Difference – Equity vs Equality
Equity and equality, the difference between equity and equality is quite clear, but those who are not aware of the nuances of English language often confuse between these two words. The difference is not very large but is based upon the fact that not everyone has been created equally by the almighty and has requirements different from others. Some are tall while some are short. Some people are overweight while there are thin people also. Do you expect all of them to eat the same quantity or amount of food? No? Therein lays the difference between equity and equality. This article attempts to clarify this difference.
What is Equity?
Equity can be defined as the quality of treating individuals fairly based on their needs and requirements. This does not denote that an equal amount should be distributed to each and every individual. On the contrary, it highlights that things should be distributed based on the needs. Let us comprehend this through an example.
In business, do you divide profits equally among the labor and officer class? Or divide the profits among the partners equally, or according to their share of ownership? This explains the concept of equity. Equity is a principle that is based upon justness and fairness while equality demands everyone be treated at the same level. Of course as a teacher of a class, you have to distribute pencils and erasers equally among the students, but when it comes to giving marks to them, you have to assess the ability of every child and give him or her numbers accordingly. This is known as the concept of equity.
What is Equality?
Equality can be defined as treating each and every individual in the same manner irrespective of needs and requirements. This is to say that whatever the necessity of the individual is, it is ignored to promote the ideals of fairness and equal treatment.
Let us see by an example. If you are the teacher of a class and have been given the task of distributing chocolates to all the kids equally, what you will do is to divide the total number of chocolates you have by the total number of students in your class and arrive at the number to be given to each child. This is what is denoted by the concept of equality. But if you ask all your students to take off their shoes, mix them up and then throw two shoes at each student, though you have done no injustice and given two shoes to each child thereby following the concept of equality, you find every child complaining. Why, because no shoe is now fitting the feet of the children. Some have large feet and have got smaller shoes while those having small feet have got bigger shoes causing discontent among them.
Thus it is clear that though equality is a good thing and needs to be followed across genders and religions, there is a concept called equity which states that everyone has different needs and requirements and should be treated accordingly.
Let us take another example to clarify the difference. Do you give the same amount of food to your toddler as you give to your husband? Obviously not, as you know that their requirements are different. Here the principle of equity is at work, but if you have two kids, you ought to divide cookies or pastries equally among them to avoid any altercation between them. This is the concept of equality. There are situations when people demand equality, to be treated as equals, and indeed this is how any government needs to treat his subjects, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, or gender. But then there are situations, such as when appointing people on merit in jobs, or distributing financial aid among the needy. This is when any government has to apply the principle of equity, and not equality.
What is the Difference Between Equity and Equality?
Definitions of Equity and Equality:
Equity: Equity can be defined as the quality of treating individuals fairly based on their needs and requirements.
Equality: Equality can be defined as treating each and every individual in the same manner irrespective of needs and requirements.
Characteristics of Equity and Equality:
Equity: Equity is a principle that is based upon justness and fairness.
Equality: Equality demands everyone be treated at the same level.
Needs and Requirements:
Equity: Attention is paid to individual needs and requirements.
Equality: Individual needs and requirements are ignored.
1. “Court of Chancery edited” by Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838), J. Hill, and Harraden (aquatint engravers) – Unknown. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons
2. “Igualtat de sexes” by Mutxamel – Own work. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons