Equity for Children initiated the Approaches to Equity study in 2013 to investigate views about the concept of equity by leaders of international organizations, foundations and research institutions. By analyzing key institutional reports and conducting interviews with senior-level professionals of international organizations as well as researchers and foundations, the findings set the stage for a common understanding of equity and contain recommendations for policy makers, practitioners and researchers. These stakeholder perspectives respond to the question: How is equity perceived by the international development community and what does it mean going forward?
While there is broad consensus among stakeholders about using the equity approach to address extreme poverty, distinctions exist in the interpretation and implications of equity and how to attain it. A common understanding of equity’s meaning is essential, for it provides a framework for collaboration across sectors — among politicians, policymakers and practitioners who will utilize these ideas to address the ultimate goal of greater equity around the world for all. The equity approach provides a shared vision for government, civil society (non governmental organizations and groups of organized citizens), academia and all stakeholders.
Equity involves redressing systems so that they are more inclusive. It is broadly defined in terms of fairness and avoidance of unnecessary deprivations. Both these characteristics involve circumstances that individuals are born into such as economic status, place of birth, race and gender.
Inequity is frequently manifested as barriers to accessing services. The most cited reason to pursue an equity agenda is to realize human rights. Other outcomes of the equity approach include improving economic growth, cost efficiency, sustainability and social cohesion. At its heart, the equity approach addresses the needs of people who suffer from multiple, overlapping deprivations—those who are the worst off. This calls for an inter-sectoral approach that addresses needs holistically. A majority of study respondents describe the strongest demographic priorities as children living in poverty, the most vulnerable segments of society and early childhood. This view reflects the fact that children are disproportionately vulnerable to disadvantages and deprivations. Within the most excluded groups, respondents note, children reached in early childhood have the greatest potential to avoid long lasting deprivations and thereby end the cycle of poverty.
The following 10 recommendations are based on the findings of this study and shall provide inputs for government, civil society (non governmental organizations and groups of organized citizens), and the private sector on equity-based policy making and programming: