International Women’s Day is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The campaign theme for International Women’s Day, this year, is #EmbraceEquity.
But what is equity and how is it different from equality? While they both are particularly important, what they mean is different. Equality means to provide the same resources or opportunities to each person or group. Equity, however, recognizes that we all have different circumstances, and our needs are different, so it is not enough to allocate the same resources to each person or group; resources or opportunities need to be adjusted to meet the specific requirements of each person or group.
Covenant House Vancouver is committed to women’s equality and our work is focused on supporting young women who are experiencing homelessness, who are at risk of homelessness, or who have experienced human trafficking. But what helps make us an equitable organization is our one-size-fits-one approach to supporting youth. Each youth who comes to us has different needs and experiences, so we cater our care and support based on the needs of each individual youth. Our services serve many purposes. Sometimes youth come for a meal, sometimes they need a safe place to stay, or sometimes they need a safe person to heal with. We are here to support young people relentlessly, whether that be for an hour, a day, or many months.
Here are seven equitable ways that young women and gender diverse youth are welcomed and supported at CHV:
- We offer gender-specific residential spaces, where gender-diverse youth choose where they feel the most comfortable, based on how they self-identify
- We are continually redesigning physical spaces in our Drop-in Centre to be more welcoming for all
- Dedicated 1:1 support with housing searches; and advocacy for youth with prospective (and potentially biased) landlords, to help youth secure suitable housing
- Consent awareness and sexual health education
- Free menstrual products
- Social events specifically for female-identified youth and 2SLGBTQAI+ community
- Support for survivors of human trafficking and survivor-led leadership, through intervention practices, strengthened policies and practices, and staff training