What is Social Equity?
We looked it up, and this is what we got from search engines:
“Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights, and equal access to social goods and services.”
But at P: HC we don’t think that’s enough.
At P: HC, we strive to advance the idea of social equity and to develop the principle in more and more aspects of our lives. People often strive and protest for equality, but equity is the more important idea to embrace. The definition of social equity that we got from the web sounds a lot like equality. Equality seeks to make everyone equal, equity, on the other hand, seeks to address the underlying and systemic differences of opportunity and access to social resources. This is more important because we aren’t all the same, some people need more help than others. By living together, we have made the commitment to help those in need, to lift each other up; this is the base idea of any country, collective solidarity. We do this because we realize that we are stronger together, we know that we can live better lives when we live together and depend on each other to help us where we alone are weak. At P: HC, developing this concept is so important because we live in a world where we are constantly attacked, not just from actual attacks but acts of division. Acts that further fractionalize and divide what should be a global community of humans, we are a victim of the illusion of difference. This illusion makes us rationalize the social divide that we all are a victim to and accept it as normalcy when, in fact, it is a malady. An affliction of the position we hold in society is insulated and separated by the efforts we took to achieve it, but what is the achievement without anyone to compare it to or admire it? Nothing. Success is important because we can share it, learn from it and benefit from it. So what’s the measure of a successful society? Real social equity is.
When we define social equity, we believe that is:
“social equity is the economic, legal, environmental, and developmental rights of access to the collective resources of society with an all-encompassing effort by means of equal say and insight of all members of society to ensure the longevity of the collective resources and to enrich the individual lives of community members as indivisible, equal inter-respectively, and as mutually comparable pinnacles to the direction of the community and individual members in respect of need and right to access and recognition.”
This means that individuals of a society should be entitled to the resources of the community so that they as individuals can thrive without comprising the resource that the whole community depends on.
We’re going to look at this in specific aspects of society and its deeper meaning:
Education – all societies thrive because they can share, retain and collect knowledge. This means that knowledge is a collective asset of society and should be fairly distributed and offered to all members of society. When understanding equity, it is important to address education as an opportunity to fix social stratification and the differences that occur in everyone’s life. This means addressing each learner as entitled to learn, that their education should be developed to optimize their lives and potential by complementing and augmenting their shortcomings. We often neglect this in society through disproportional allocations of educational resources which further perpetuates social stratification and economic class division.
Justice – Real legal justice is often forfeited when a society has systemically oppressed and disadvantaged a specific segment of the population. I don’t have to specify a specific case of this because it happens in every society. It’s wrong. Ingrained bias, coupled with the unequal access to opportunity only further negative social behaviour from the oppressed group. Equitable justice looks past the surface and understands the context the circumstances of social inequality and offers those disadvantaged real arbitrations and rehabilitation practices equal to that of peers in other social segments. The difference of like sentencing and overall legal treatment is often indicative of social injustice in a society and is the first step to solving it.
Environment – True environmental equity is both the understanding of the conditions of the present and the rights of the future on activities that affect or impact the environment of all social actors. It is taking the full measure to develop a shared and communal effort to manage development and land-use. Some will argue that the process is like it is because no one wants to live near certain developments, that is why we need environmental equity. Communities must be elevated to the level of as equal stakeholders, consulted as equals so they can understand all the impacts and can opt out of development or control the measures or design to mitigate the adverse effects to their populations and potential generations. Goose-stepping the community means forgetting the principles of society.
Economic – Understanding the cost of labour and living in a society is the measure of the level of a society’s development. Respecting the rights of workers and properly negotiating wages that are fair and just is the pinnacle practice of circular capitalist economics. However, the rise of globalization and automation has seen labour become a means of widening margins and putting people after profit. These companies are tapping into a social resource, the population of society itself. It is important to understand this and develop legislative and co-operative efforts to empower the social expectations of work within our society that puts people first. No market will become unattractive to corporations if societies reinforce their rights, Nordic countries are a good example, but the standard can continue to raise the level of expectation on corporate policy and operation.
Developmental – This is the more progressive and less noted aspect of equity in society as it strikes at the difference in our individual ability to live fulfilling lives. Developmental Equity looks to aide and prop-up people that have been disadvantaged by the context of life and ability. This type of disparity is often understood and accommodated in our educational institutions, but once people who are developmentally or otherwise disadvantaged are subject to discrimination, stigma and social neglect in the accommodation of their need. We need to see this type of equity to encompass every condition that is impeding to our ability to live, not simply a laundry list of conditions. Developmental equity looks not only to assure the consideration of these individuals into society but to actively provide this diverse population with the things and opportunities needed to live rewarding and meaningful lives within society.
One might note that we haven’t defined and specified identity equity. Identity equity is to acknowledge racial and social population segments for their histories and particular struggle in society. This kind of equity can only breed more social division, it’s not that it’s wrong to champion the causes of these populations. If we as a society, strive for the economic, environmental, judicial and educational rights with this understanding of social equity, we are consciously addressing this social issue. By being equitable to the entire population, we’re not creating the grounds to later polarise society. If identity equity is a policy practice, when times become tough, other struggling social groups use this difference to rouse the creation of a social enemy to blame for the current social conditions. This can lead to further discrimination because it’s grounds for the ‘us vs them’ mentality. Those looking to rectify identity-based inequities should be pursuing social justice. In social justice, the adjudicative tier/branch of society uses its authority to address and rectify identity-based inequities, these actions are important and should be administered with an understanding and application of the facets of social equity outlined in this paper.
All of these aspects of social equity are prevalent in some form or another. When a large enough segment of the population is disadvantaged by one or two areas of these equity factors, it is easy to discard the validity or right of another factor that doesn’t directly affect us but is made prevalent. This is the cycle of the social conversation, and sometimes it doesn’t align with the current public need. Instead, it creates problems with the idea of social equity and understanding. Both these issues are the seeds of social division that keep us from progress. Yet, it remains the responsibility of an engaged and diverse society to understand the historical and contextual differences in our lives and perspectives. So we may attain a level of equity and social freedom that pushes the collective and individual experience past that which we have become accustomed to in favour of a greater tomorrow, today. This is a problem P: HC is prepared to address, and with your help, we can further our research, develop our ability to act on this. We want to bridge these social disconnects to bring us closer in our fight for equity.