Susan O’Callaghan, Cork Deaf Association
I’m Deaf and a native user of Irish Sign Language. I have worked with Cork Deaf Association for 22 years and my current role is Advocacy Officer.
For me, equity means ensuring that Deaf Irish Sign Language users have equal access to opportunities, supports and services.
Due to inequity and audism, Deaf women are at a higher risk of adverse health outcomes compared to hearing (non-deaf) women. For example, Deaf women may struggle to access appropriate care and information throughout pregnancy and birth and for serious health issues such as breast cancer.
In the hearing world, there is a lot of information available about women’s health issues. There is plenty of information available on TV, radio, newspapers or even word of mouth. There are many barriers for Deaf women accessing information in the same way. A lot of this information is not available in Irish Sign Language and written English is often very dense and inaccessible. The radio is not an option as an information source either.
I want to see a time when Deaf women have equal access to healthcare.
For example, it is important that Deaf women fully understand information regarding the importance of mammograms and smear tests and the symptoms of cervical cancer. This essential information needs to be fully accessible in Irish Sign Language as an important step towards equality.
Elena Canty, Ballyvolane, is a strong supporter and believer of disability rights and inclusion
For me, equity means true inclusion, to not just thrive in life but to enjoy my life to the fullest without facing any obstacles, barriers and challenges in society.
Living with a disability means that I view the world from a different perspective, I navigate the world differently to others as I am a wheelchair user. For as long as I can remember, I faced challenges and obstacles in society including bias, stereotypes and ableism, inaccessibility and a lack of inclusion.
Inaccessibility and ableism is still a huge challenge I face today deeply, to the point where it does affect whether I thrive in life or not.
While equality means that everyone is entitled to the same resources and opportunities, I strongly believe that more needs to be done to ensure equity exists in our society, especially when it comes to accessibility.
To me, equity means that I can attend any event (i.e. concert) and access everything I need to enjoy myself fully during it, like being able to use the accessible bathroom without encountering obstacles and view the stage without people blocking my view when they’re standing. I think of equity when shopping; being able to access the checkout counter, and being able to reach for a product in the drapery and grocery department without asking for assistance.
Being able to easily source accessible parking when visiting the city centre wherever and whenever I need without hassle, and being able to access footpaths and buildings without facing barriers.
Staying in a hotel that has a fully accessible bathroom is a great challenge for me also. The list goes on...
When I think of equity, I think of every person as unique who presents with different circumstances throughout their life. One size does not fit all, and equality is no longer enough. In order for everyone to thrive in society, we need to ensure that their unique circumstances are met with an understanding that resources and opportunities are given in a way that suits them.
Going forward, we need to adopt an equity-based solution in our society, we need to adapt services and policies accordingly to suit the diverse lived-experiences of individuals and communities. We need to work towards true inclusion for all, let’s embrace equity together.
Lauren Duggan, Co-founder of Riley, an eco-friendly period care company founded in Cork
I think it is easy to get confused between equity and equality. For me, equality means providing the same to all, while equity means recognising that we do not all start from the same place and some may need additional resources to have an equal opportunity to thrive.
At Riley, we work with different charity partners to donate sanitary products to those that cannot access them - both abroad and at home here in Ireland.
For us, period poverty is a huge issue and equality will be making period products accessible to anyone who needs them. In Kenya, however, there is a lack of education and stigma associated with menstrual health which is a huge barrier. This is why, alongside simply donating products, we also take it a step further by funding doctor-led school visits to educate young girls and boys on menstrual health in that region.
In short - equality is the goal, and equity is the means to get there.
Annabel Lolah Founder of Bezateli activewear
Let’s embrace equity and aim for a world where all individuals are treated equally, regardless of gender, race, or social status.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we should visualise a society that embraces diversity and inclusion, where everyone has access to the same opportunities and receives the same treatment based on their needs.
As women, we have long been fighting for a rightful place in society, and it’s time to acknowledge our contributions and give us the respect and recognition we deserve.
We play multiple roles in society, from caregivers and nurturers to full-time employees or business owners. Yet, we face several challenges in the workplace, such as not being promoted, pregnancy discrimination, and receiving unequal pay even when we accomplish the same tasks as our male counterparts.
Maternity policies in the workplace should be designed to support both men and women equally, and women should not be penalised for having children.
We also deserve the same opportunities as men, regardless of social class or race, and we should be given the opportunity to express our opinions and be heard without fear of being interrupted or considered irrelevant.
Women have always supported each other, and we need to continue this by empowering and lifting each other up. We should pass on our knowledge to younger generations and encourage them to pursue careers once considered to be male-dominated, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). We must also recognise the importance of men in the discussion of equity and inclusion, as they too have a role to play in achieving gender equality.
In the Bezateli community, we aspire that every woman will understand her worth and fight for her rights. We believe that a confident woman can break barriers. So, as we commemorate International Women’s Day, let us say no to gender pay gaps, embrace equity and work together towards a society that respects and values every individual.
Manasi Nadkarni , research assistant at APC Microbiome as well as a Kathak dance teacher and choreographer.
I believe equity is impossible without support and sensitivity. Women in the workforce face many logistical and biological barriers, such as handling the logistics of childcare or the pain of menstrual cycles.
Equity in such environments can be built only on the foundation of sensitivity and support.
When our colleagues and managers understand our barriers and develop solutions, such as childcare facilities at work or menstrual leave, and when our family supports our dreams by splitting housework and daily responsibilities, it would be possible for women worldwide to start embracing equity because we will finally be at the same starting point in this race of life.
Alana James, Artist
I am a 70-year-old professional artist. Equity brings up issues of age as much as gender, Equity for a woman over 70 revolves around being supported in taking on new options or life experiences.
Equity means we have options to continue contributing to our communities, not just our families.
Allocation of the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach that outcome would include accessible or age friendly parking and transportation, journalism that included information geared to old and young alike, networking and meeting places or events designed to bring the ages together, etc.