I have been reflecting on this year’s theme for international women’s day for quite some time. What does it mean to embrace equity?
We know that we don’t all start in the same place. Even if it looks like we do, some of us face barriers on our path while others benefit from boosters on theirs.
It’s that image of a race where one person’s race track is uphill with hurdles and the other person’s is downhill with a horse-carriage available to them.
It’s a spectrum, of course, but you get the idea.
It’s the vote of confidence some people get right out the gate, while others may get a “so are you sure you’re a lawyer?” It’s the protected space some people get to voice their thoughts and ideas, while others may have to shout across the room (literally and metaphorically) to make sure they are heard. It’s the respect that some people are automatically and immediately shown, while others get microaggressions instead.
We know there is inequity on our paths. This inequity is determined by a host of factors, not least of which is gender, and gets compounded when these factors intersect.
So, what can we do about that? What can we do to promote and embrace equity, rather than passively accept it?
Well, there’s certainly no one right answer to that question. There are countless things that can be, and should be, done. (*I encourage you to check out my colleagues’ blogs for their perspectives and reflections).
From my perspective, I believe it is hard to “embrace equity” when we don’t understand the differences in our lived experiences. And it is impossible to understand the differences in our lived experiences if we don’t listen to one another.
It sounds simple enough. But we live in a world that sometimes feels more polarized than ever, and where social media algorithms almost guarantee that we are surrounded by our very own echo-chamber. A world where every interaction is actually a confrontation, every debate is actually an argument, and every discussion is just another opportunity for further polarization.
More than ever, we need to take active steps to counteract this environment. Let us make the space to truly listen to one another. Let us make the space to speak to those who are outside our circle. Let us make the space to understand and appreciate the lived experiences of our colleagues, neighbours and friends. Let us ask each other what we can do to make each others’ experiences better. Let us ask each other how we can help lift some of the barriers on our paths. Let us “listen” without waiting to “speak”.
Let us listen to pave the way to embrace equity. For women and beyond, and on March 8 and beyond.