A Guide to Social Equality
In an ideal world, every person would be considered equal – under the law, and in the eyes of those around them. In this world, each individual would have the same opportunity to reach their potential and strive for success.
This is the concept of social equality – a term we often hear thrown around by politicians and leaders, but is rarely explicitly defined. In this article, we break down exactly what this term means, and why social equality is an important goal to strive for in our society.
What is Social Equality?
Social equality refers to a society where all people have equal rights under the law, including the right to vote, freedom of speech, property rights, and equal access to goods and services. These rights also include equal access to education, health care, social securities, and public infrastructure.
A significant component of social equality is equality of opportunity. Everyone must have equal chances to achieve success and wealth within a society. For this to be possible, a truly equal society must have an absence of discrimination, meaning a person’s sex, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, class, income or property, language, religion, convictions, health or disability does not result in unequal treatment under the law or reduce potential opportunities.
Fighting Social Inequalities
Social inequalities develop when certain groups of individuals have more privilege than others when it comes to accumulating wealth, education, or gaining social mobility.
The issue of social inequality is systematic. Systematic inequalities based on class, gender, ethnicity and other variables perpetually leave certain groups cut off from achieving their potential.
Minority groups including racialized individuals and Indigenous people, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community, continue to face obstacles and discrimination when trying to achieve equal opportunities. Gender has also historically been a category of discrimination. While gender equality has progressed in Canada in recent years, the wage gap between male and female workers is still a significant issue – women still make 74 cents to every dollar that a man earns.
Why is Social Equality Important?
Achieving social equality in our communities would mean individuals are no longer judged and discriminated against based on aspects of their identity. Social equality establishes everyone as equals, and prevents those in minority positions from losing opportunities due to systematic inequalities.
Social equality also allows for better economic equality, meaning the wealth is more evenly distributed within a society. It is vital in creating a level playing field, allowing all individuals to thrive.
Social Equality and Unions
In our society, unions are a key resource for achieving social and economic equality. Unions work to protect workers against discrimination and unequal pay, and strive for fair treatment in the workplace. Unions also fight for fair wages and decent benefits for all workers, assisting in the efforts towards economic equality.
The ideal of social equality is not easy to attain: systematic issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia have long histories, and these prejudices still persist today. Yet, understanding the necessity of social equality is the first step towards achieving it. As unions, communities and individuals we must actively work together to combat prejudice and achieve a more fair and judgement-free society.