Read each of the following statements and decide if they represent equity, equality, both or neither.
1. Research has found that drugs such as antihistamines and antibiotics may cause different reactions and side effects in females and males. In order to ensure that drugs do not cause harm to either sex, new guidelines recommend that all clinical trials of medications involve both women and men.
This statement is about both equality and equity. Including both women and men in clinical trials of drugs means that we are treating males and females them the same – equality. But assessing the effects of medications on males and females involves an appreciation that differences are important and may require different responses. For instance, low-dose aspirin has been routinely recommended for women and men at risk of heart disease, even though the treatment was only tested on men. Subsequent trials with females and males found that low-dose aspirin is generally more effective for men than for women.
2. Many senior women in Canada have worked all their lives caring for children and families. Taking responsibility for this important work frequently means that they have not been paid, nor consistently contributed to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). As a result, a significant number of senior women in Canada live below the poverty line. In fact, the number of senior women living in poverty is nearly double the number of poor senior men. The government has tried to address this difference by taking childcare and unpaid caregiving into account when calculating CPP benefits.
This statement is about both equality and equity. Because CPP rates are determined by levels of contributions, everyone who makes similar contributions to the program receives similar benefits when they retire. This is equality. Adjustments to the program designed to take caregiving into account represent an effort to make the program more equitable.
3. A local hockey camp for children is held in the summertime to teach skating and stick-handling skills before the hockey season begins. In the past, only boys have attended the camp, but organizers are taking steps to encourage girls to attend because they realize that more girls are becoming involved in hockey.
This statement represents both equality and equity. By opening the camp to girls, organizers are trying to ensure that girls and boys have the same opportunities to learn and play hockey. By reaching out to girls specifically, they are also promoting equity because historically females have been excluded from hockey and additional effort is needed to open this door for girls.
4. A city council creates a policy requiring that all new housing developments include recreation centres. The policy is designed to increase opportunities for physical activity, which may contribute to healthier weights and better health in general for members of these communities.
This statement represents equality. Every development is treated the same, regardless of its purpose or location. If the policy also stipulated that residents must be able to use the recreation facilities at no cost, it could contribute to equity by ensuring that everyone has access.
5. A community decides to open a library in a low-income neighbourhood.
This statement represents equity. The new library is a deliberate attempt to make sure that the neighbourhood residents can enjoy the resources and meeting space in the library without having to spend the time and money involved in travelling to a library outside of their community. The new library is also a way of making sure that families can enjoy reading without having to pay for books that they might not be able to afford.