Defining: Equity, Equality and Justice

By Nikki Erdmann

Even though Equity and Equality sound similar the differences between them matter. Societal structures place people of certain status such as race or socioeconomic status at differing points of advantage or disadvantage with structural barriers. 

What is Equity?

Equity is not only dividing resources fairly and equally, but also factoring in differences amongst people. Differences such as race and socioeconomic status that would require different support to ensure the same opportunity of success. This can be shown in the image below by the different height of the ladders. The boy on the right has a taller ladder because the tree is higher on his side. Whereas the other boy has a shorter ladder because he has a shorter distance to reach to gather apples. They have different sized ladders to make sure they are both able to pick the apples.

What is Equality?

Equality is dividing resources equally but does not factor differences in need and ability. Everybody is given the exact same quantity of resources. As seen in the image, both boys are given the same size ladder not factoring in differences of access –  leading to one boy not able to access the apples.

What is Justice?

Justice is long-term equity. It looks to create equity in systems as well as individuals. “Justice can take equity one step further by fixing the systems in a way that leads to long-term, sustainable, equitable access for generations to come.” As seen in the image, both boys are given the same size ladder but instead of giving them different sized ladders, they give added supports to ensure both are able to access the apples.

“The route to achieving equity will not be accomplished through treating everyone equally. It will be achieved by treating everyone equitably, or justly according to their circumstances.”


[1] What’s the difference between equity and equality? Mental Floss. (2020, June 11).

[2] World Health Organization. (2011, June 8). Equity. World Health Organization.,economically%2C%20demographically%2C%20or%20geographically.

[3] Sally McMahon (2021, January 29). Medical news.,justly%20according%20to%20their%20circumstances.%E2%80%9D.

Published: May 27, 2021

Edited: August 5, 2021