Updated Mar 8, 2023

Today is International Women's Day 2023!

Today (Wednesday 8 March) is International Women's Day 2023, and this year's theme is #EmbraceEquity.


The theme focuses on the importance of having gender equity in society's DNA and that it is critical to understand the difference between equity and equality.

Its aim is to get the world talking about "why equal opportunities aren't enough", as people start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.

Equity is something we need to think about, know, value and embrace as it means creating an inclusive world.

The theme emphasises that each person can actively support #EmbraceEquity within our own sphere of influence, by:

  • challenging gender stereotypes;
  • calling out discrimination;
  • drawing attention to bias; and
  • seeking out inclusion.

Equality is the goal and equity is the means to get there, and every activity, no matter how small, is a means to get there.

Equality v Equity

Although there are similarities between equity and equality, the theme focuses on the fact that equal opportunities are no longer enough, as they can be exclusionary rather than inclusive.

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.

Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. It is giving everyone what they need to be successful.

It is not giving everyone the exact same thing, as doing that and expecting that it will make people equal, assumes that everyone started out in the same position, which can be vastly inaccurate as everyone is not the same.

The concept of "fairness" can be difficult as it is often assumed that being fair means that everybody gets the same thing. "Fairness" really only works when we are all the same to start out with.

Inequity affects many people, but most commonly it historically marginalises communities such as:

  • women;
  • people of colour;
  • disabled people;
  • the economically disadvantaged; and
  • those from the LGBTQ+ community.

The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people's ability to thrive. Equity-based solutions take into account the diverse lived experiences of individuals and communities, adapting services and policies according to these differences.

It is a long-term and sustainable solution, and is a process for addressing imbalanced social systems.

What barriers do women continue to face?

Research by Lean In, a non-profit organisation, shows that:

  • bias contributes to women being passed over for jobs and promotions;
  • almost 60% of women regularly experience micro-aggressions at work;
  • finding meaningful support at work is a major challenge;
  • about 20% of women say they're often the only woman at work.

In its latest global gender report published in July 2022, the World Economic Forum found that the global gender gap had slightly narrowed between 2021 and 2022. However it concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a "generational loss" in closing the gap. It showed that gender parity may not be achieved for a further 132 years.

A more equitable and inclusive workplace

Lean In's research-backed programs help companies to fight bias and embrace equity. It highlights the importance of flexibility, remote and hybrid work, and the importance of managers when it comes to equity.

In an ACAS podcast "Allyship: positively moving the conversation of gender equality forward" the best ways to apply equity in the workplace were discussed. These include:

  • recognising the barriers that currently exist within the system;
  • changing the culture;
  • looking at how policies can be flexible to provide equity.

Ways to make your workplace more inclusive include:

  • having a workplace policy which covers equity, equality, diversity and inclusion, and be clear what the organisations purpose and values are;
  • providing training to management to not only help support current employees, but also to look how they can be inclusive and equitable when recruiting new staff;
  • providing training, development and promotion for staff to get them to align with the companies policies;
  • making sure those doing equal work have equal pay, benefits, opportunities, and terms and conditions;
  • making sure employees do not miss out on job or training opportunities, and are informed on important matters and changes in their work place, including those away from work due to:
    • antenatal appointments,
    • pregnancy,
    • maternity leave,
    • paternity leave,
    • adoption leave,
    • Shared Parental Leave,
    • caring for children;
  • allowing flexible working where possible to avoid discrimination against any employee;
  • making employees feel valued and talk openly with them;
  • promoting inclusive events and activities.

For more information on this subject, see: